April 2009 Issue

Ramp Safety

A recent study covering more than 20 years of ramp accidents highlights that situational awareness and vigilance are the keys to safety.

Every pilot, to one degree or another, spends time contemplating risk management. While aviation is known to be potentially risky, most aviators adopt the strategy of actively managing risk as a means of minimizing the exposure to danger. Each and every flight involves a series of choices and judgments, either conscious or not, that ideally insures the safe completion of the flight. Outside the cockpit, we spend a significant portion of time reading accident reports, attending safety seminars or even going through the new FARs. Virtually every aspect of flight safety is scrutinized. I say "virtually" since there is one area which is generally given very little consideration. That is what happens on the ramp. How safe (or dangerous) is it to be in the vicinity of an airport ramp? It is exceedingly difficult to derive a useful statistical comparison (like fatalities per 100,000 flight hours) since there is a broad spectrum in ramp activities; from a sleepy grass strip where hand-propping might be the greatest danger, to a large metropolitan airport where the intensity of activity can appear to create a blur. The risks and frequency of events are likely to be completely different across the spectrum of airports. However, knowing what has happened to other pilots and operators might make you pause to think next time you walk across the apron while talking on your cellphone or glancing at the likely departure procedure. Instead, we need to recognize the hazards of being in an area where bad things can and do happen, and then look at the ramp in different way.

To continue reading this entire article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Aviation Safety

The monthly journal of risk management and accident prevention, is packed with useful, timely information on basic and advanced technique, accident analysis and, most important, practical articles on how you can develop the judgment that will keep you in the air and out of the NTSB's files.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.