The perception that airport ramps and runways are only occupied by aircraft servicing our travel requirements is obviously not the whole picture, as other aircraft and a multitude of motorized and non-motorized assets are manoeuvring at the same time according to specific timeframes to make air travel possible. And as such, airports are definitely not exempt from the need for safe driving—rules have equally to be respected in this environment or your licence can be revoked...
This is precisely what happened to a ground handler working for the company Saigon Ground Services at the airport of Tan Son Nhat in Vietnam. The news reported that a ground handler drove his vehicle onto the runway, forcing a Vietnam Airlines plane to make a sudden stop on August 19. The driver, whose name has not been made public, has been fined the equivalent of $172/€156 for not maintaining a safe distance from the plane on the runway. The Vietnam Airlines plane was forced to stop suddenly.
The incident was not the only near-miss to occur at the airport last month, as a driver of a mobile boarding ramp lost control on August 21 and hit an aircraft waiting to depart for Osaka, Japan. The collision caused a dent in the aircraft’s fuselage and postponed the flight for one day, with the aircraft now having been sent for repairs and checks. The driver, who has not been named, said the vehicle “suddenly shifted gears” and crashed into the plane.
When on the ground, aircrafts face far more risks from the various other agents operating in the shared airport space—not only other airplanes but fuel trucks, tugs, support vehicles, catering trucks, buildings, obstacles and so on. The ground area of an airport is a very busy place indeed… where the kind of unsafe practices just mentioned ought never to happen.
According to the whitepaper Solutions to the High Costs of Aircraft Ground Damage, occupational hazards, injuries and absences from the workplace result in multi-billion dollar costs close to $4B to the aviation industry and more specifically in the ground operations sector. In terms of aircraft ground damages, the $4B figure is closer to around $12B when the ancillary costs related to injuries, staff shortages, insurance-related costs to both employers and employees and other factors are taken into consideration.
If your ground handling organisation doesn’t want to be part of these statistics (and we assume that’s invariably the case), talk to us to see how to streamline your airport ground operations and run a safe airport fleet.