Lack of driver training for airside equipment could compromise safety

Businesses running ground support operations may be compromising safety by failing to provide operator training for the different types of ramp equipment being used airside.

Each flight involves large numbers of support staff, including handling agents, ground crew, flight crew, passengers and radio operators, as well as vehicles. The sheer number of people involved in each movement, combined with time pressures, changeable weather conditions and the ‘human factor’, present potentially serious risks to safety.

“To truly reduce risk, it is vitally important for employers of ground handlers to understand what is, and isn’t covered by the Airside Driver Permit (ADP) training and deliver the necessary training to their staff,” explains Laura Nelson, Managing Director of RTITB.

“The ADP requires the operator to have a Category B driving licence, so many employers would wrongly assume that as long as an operator has done ADP training, they will be able to drive any type of airside equipment skilfully and safely, that is simply not the case.” continued Laura.

Vehicle operation on the ground airside has many safety implications. Vehicles invariably come into proximity of ground staff, passenger, other on-site employees and, of course, aircraft. Operations must therefore consider Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations such as PUWER and Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, as well as various workplace transport safety regulations. 

Recommendations set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for aerodromes and third parties (such as handling agents) must also be considered. To help aerodromes – and employers of staff at aerodromes – meet safety obligations in line with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations, including safe driving operations, the CAA has produced various Civil Aviation Publications (CAPs) offering guidance.

The document ‘CAP790: requirement for an Airside Driving Permit (ADP) Scheme’ provides useful guidance for ground support operations on how to comply with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations and a framework for best practise. It illustrates how risks might be identified and provides advice on integrating airside driving safety into a Safety Management System (SMS).

Laura explains “Because of the overlap with air operations, the ADP is one of the most important safety mechanisms with the airside environment, helping to align all parties involved with ground vehicle operations and reduce risk. However, the ADP training is only part of the airside safety story.”

ADP training is weighted towards the specifics of the airfield and workplace familiarisation due to the complexities of the vehicle operation, combined with specific airfield safety protocols. Dependent on the ADP training completed, operators will be issued with permits that allow them to drive on certain areas of the airfield, for example ‘A’ permits are for airside roads and the apron, and ‘M’ permits are for manoeuvring areas. An ‘R’ permit is for the runway and can only be obtained following the acquisition of an ‘M’ permit.

However, at no level does ADP training focus on training itself. Therefore, acquisition of an ADP does not automatically enable operators to use the multitude of equipment types found airside. In fact, CAP790 states that training is required in accordance with DVLA or industry standards for the equipment that operators will be required to use. This includes training on safely operating baggage tugs, de-icers, re-fullers, waste removal lorries, bowsers, emergency incident vehicles, beltloaders, hi-loaders, sweepers, tractors, prime movers and airbridges.

As well as promoting the importance of training, CAP790, also offers helpful guidance on managing driver behaviour and ultimately, the revocation of permits if offences are serious enough, or if too many offences are accrued. In line with CAP642, driver management should form part of the aerodrome’s overall Safety Management System and is therefore also integral to meeting ADP requirements.

Responsibility to ensure airside operation safety to CAA recommendations, and other relevant Health and Safety legislation, ultimately lies with the aerodrome authority. However, all employers operating within the site, including ground handling agents and other parties working with ground support equipment, also have responsibility to comply with the aerodrome authority’s rules, to meet their commitment to safety.

RTITB’s expert aviation team specialises in supporting airports and ground handling companies to maximise safety and reduce costs in ground operations. All RTITB training courses are designed to help companies comply with local laws and regulations and the international requirements of EASA, as well as improving the standards of ground support equipment operator training. Learn more about our Aviation solutions online or call +44(0)1952 520207.

 

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