7 Aircraft Towing Best Practices Every FBO Should Follow

April 30, 2024

When it comes to towing procedures, fixed-base operators (FBOs) should adhere to industry best practices and standards to ensure safe and efficient ground handling operations. These include all relevant aviation regulations and guidelines set forth by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), as well as by regulatory authorities, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe. 

IATA offers general guidelines for aircraft towing procedures, emphasizing safety, equipment suitability, effective communication, area clearance, towing techniques and emergency procedures. FBOs and ground handling providers adapt these principles into their specific towing protocols, considering regulatory requirements and operational needs.

IBAC’s International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH) is another resource specifically created to enhance the safety and efficiency of business and general aviation ground handling.

Most FBOs have established guidelines for towing with comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs) that outline proper towing procedures, including a pre-tow check, equipment usage, communication protocols and emergency procedures, says Pete Johnson, director of sales and service, Americas, Aero Specialties.

Specific training and certification requirements for ground handling staff involved in aircraft towing operations at FBOs can vary depending on local regulations, type of aircraft and FBO policies.

 “FBOs should ensure that their ground handling staff receive comprehensive training and certification to perform aircraft towing operations safely and efficiently, contributing to the overall safety and success of the FBO's operations,” Johnson says.

Training programs and certification vary by FBO.

Johnson says AERO Specialties assists its customers with recommendations and provides references to proper towbar use and maintenance. 

About the Author

Rebecca Kanable | Assistant Editor

Rebecca Kanable, a veteran journalist, joined Endeavor Business Media's aviation group in 2021. She has worked for various publications, including trade magazines and newspapers.

Contact: Rebecca (Becky) Kanable

Assistant Editor of Airport Business, AMT, Ground Support Worldwide 

[email protected]