Air Transport World

End of the 'no fault' ramp.(airports step up ramp-accident control efforts; includes related article)

Reducing the numbers and costs of ground accidents becomes a higher priority with airlines and airports

LONDON--Case 1: A Boeing 747 arrived from New York at Heathrow Airport. During disembarkation of the 362 passengers, the jetty started to rise and jammed solidly against the door. Repairs to the aircraft took several days.

Case 2: A Fokker 100 was being towed at Munich when the towbar bolt sheared and the aircraft turned hard left, throwing the engineer in the cockpit from his seat so that he could not apply the brakes. The aircraft collided with a wall, sustaining substantial damage. The report in ERA's Fly Safely is headed: "Why engineers should strap in for towing."

Case 3: An Avro RJ85 was being loaded for a flight from Heathrow while a baggage-conveyor vehicle was being positioned at the forward hold by a member of the handling agency crew. The driver reported his foot slipped off the brake pedal and the loader hit the side of the fuselage, punching a 25cm-diameter hole in the skin.

Case 4. The flight crew of a BAe 146 being pushed back to begin a service from Stansted saw the tug rear up and heard "a loud bang and other noises." The tug continued jumping around violently, almost bouncing a startled driver out of his seat. Examination showed it had supplied sufficient force to cause the shear pin to fad.

Airport ramp accidents and incidents are estimated to cost civil aviation some $2.2 billion annually in repairs and disruption. But because of the routine nature of such incidents, this whole area has been confined to a low position on the whatwent-wrong list.

However, this attitude is changing rapidly as carriers look more diligently at the financial bottom line and as runway, taxiway and ramp space becomes scarce at many of the major airports, particularly in Europe, due to congestion.

At the same time, authorities are probing far more deeply into bumps, however trivial they may seem. The British Air Accidents Investigation Board of the Dept. of Transport, which previously came into the picture only in case of death or serious injury, now looks at virtually every ramp incident, a demanding task considering that around 45 such incidents occur at U. …

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