Issue Number 242
August 1999
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

Ramp Safety Revisited--Cargo and APU Blues

ASRS recently has received several reports describing unusual ramp operation hazards that require flight and ground crew awareness. We lead off with an incident that presents a new slant on fatigue, as reported by an air carrier Captain.

No Snooze is Good News

In addition to our reporter's firm admonition, we add another: ground crews should conduct a visual inspection of cargo bin interiors before closing and securing doors.

COD — Caterer Object Damage

The Captain of a Boeing 727-200 describes a harrowing incident that has led his company to revise its ramp procedures. The incident underscores the importance of ensuring that contract, as well as company ground personnel, undergo training in ramp safety procedures. In particular, all ground personnel need to understand that flashing aircraft beacons mean extreme caution — engines are running, or engine start is imminent.

The Captain provided additional details about this incident to ASRS analysts during a callback. The B-727's #1 engine had been left on idle power while maintenance attempted to get ground power on the aircraft. The aircraft's upper and lower beacons were on, and flashing, to alert all ramp personnel that one or more engines were operating. The station procedures required that the aft galley be serviced through the left aft exit. The catering truck parked next to this exit. As the catering supervisor approached the aircraft door from the walkway of the elevated catering truck, he was immediately sucked into the turning engine. After he was removed and checked for injuries, he was asked whether he had heard the engine running. He replied "no."

The caterer suffered a number of broken ribs, but amazingly avoided more serious injury thanks to quick intervention by the cabin and flight crew. A preventative for this type of event is procedures that prohibit service vehicles from approaching parked aircraft until all aircraft beacons have been turned off.

It's in the Bag

A lost-communications incident that affected this air carrier flight crew may inspire other pilots to take a second look at where they place book bags containing flight charts and manuals.

"Go, and Listen as Thou Goest" — Dante's Inferno

What's in a word? Sometimes a world of difference, especially when ATC clearances are involved. Several recent ASRS reports illustrate, beginning with a First Officer's account:

Taxi Where?

A "mea culpa" from a General Aviation pilot who misheard an initial taxi instruction, and didn't question the logic of the clearance:

Unusual Attitudes — and Outcomes

Several highly experienced General Aviation pilots share new lessons learned about pre-flight as the result of aerobatic maneuvers. We hear first from a pilot who went out to practice aerobatics right after an annual inspection:

Another experienced pilot indulged in uncoordinated spirals in a light plane that was not approved or stressed for such maneuvers. Result: an off-airport emergency landing.

The low fuel state that contributed to this incident could have been avoided by a manual or visual fuel check prior to taking up each group of skydivers. The reporter also placed himself in jeopardy by performing aerobatic maneuvers that were not approved for this aircraft at any altitude.

A Plea for PIREPs

ASRS has received an important reminder from an air traffic controller to pilots everywhere: Pilot Reports (PIREPs) are sometimes the only way that ATC can know about adverse flight-related events that can affect all aircraft:

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
EMB-120 smoke-in-cockpit incident
Incidents related to similar-sounding callsigns
Cabin crew injury caused by B767-200 aft door handle
Procedures for air-freight shipment of oxygen generators
Recurring aircraft-ramp electrical arcing at several airports
June 1999 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots