Two-In Two-Out Rule Puts Hardship On Small ARFF Departments

If you do not have two firefighters for entry, and two for a safety line, you do not enter an aircraft (or structure). I work at a Index A airport, working under Part 139 rules and regulations. Staffing is not mentioned in the 139, only extinguishing agent requirements. After normal working hours and weekends, we may have three ARFF responders, in the evening two, and overnight one. With this being said our operation can run into some hard decisions. Your own safety comes first, but your intuition as a firefighter is to help those in need.
You and your partner respond to a aircraft accident, people are in the aircraft that can't get themselves out. Mutual Aids are five minutes or more away, what do you do? Risk over Benefit...
Are you putting yourself in danger? Are you following policies and procedures? Are you going to be disciplined?
Are you going to sit there and watch people in need, while you wait for two or three other responders to arrive? Is putting the "wet stuff on the hot stuff"(water on fire) going to be sufficient. Is putting the "White stuff on the red stuff" (foam on fire) going to be enough for you to feel like to gave it your all.
I don't claim to have the answers to all these questions. As Firefighters you are up against a hard task. Aircraft burn very fast, within 90 seconds it could burn to ashes. Aviation fuels are very dangerous to handle. As the people are running away, we are running in.
As you make decisions based on this topic, think them through. Start today, when an aircraft emergency may arise it should not be the first time this topic was discussed.
We all have families that want us to come home the way we left. Review your Operating Guidelines, talk with the people on your shift, have a plan in place for when it happens.
Not If It Happens, When It Happens!!!

Part 139 Safety Self-Inspection Program, Don't Just Go Through The Motions (Part 2, The Inspection,Safety Areas)

As we continue our Safety Self-Inspection Series, we will turn our focus to Part 139.309, Safety Areas. All runways and taxiways available for Part 139 Air Carrier Aircraft must have an established safety area. Tab five in your approved Airport Certification Manual will explain your inspection procedures, and state your safety area dimensions.

§ 139.309 Safety areas.
Each certificate holder must maintain its safety areas as follows:
(1) Each safety area must be cleared and graded and have no potentially hazardous ruts, humps, depressions, or other surface variations.
(2) Each safety area must be drained by grading or storm sewers to prevent water accumulation.
(3) Each safety area must be capable under dry conditions of supporting snow removal and aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment and of supporting the occasional passage of aircraft without causing major damage to the aircraft.
(4) No objects may be located in any safety area, except for objects that need to be located in a safety area because of their function. These objects must be constructed, to the extent practical, on frangibly mounted structures of the lowest practical height, with the frangible point no higher than 3 inches above grade.
(c) FAA Advisory Circulars contain methods and procedures for the configuration and maintenance of safety areas acceptable to the Administrator.
A/C 150/5300-13 Airport Designs
A/C 150/5320-5 Airport Drainage

As stated above, safety areas must remain clear of all objects other then those deemed necessary by the FAA. After construction activity in or near a safety area, an inspection of the area shall be performed. Construction work is allowed in a safety area, but no closer then 200ft off the centerline of the runway, if a NOTAM is issued.
Use caution when inspection your safety areas, after rain/snow is not the best time to drive in those areas. We do not want to cause any damage.

Safety Area Inspections are a key component in your Self Inspection Program, also for the safety on your airfield.

In our next post of the "Safety Inspection Program" we will discuss Part 139.311 Markings, Signs, and Lighting.


Interactive Airfield Driver Training Program

Aviation Tutorials has an excellent interactive driver training cd-rom, available at This program will cost $29.oo, well worth the money.
Click on the photo for a screen shot.

Airbus A380 Perfect Landing bounces into LAX. March 19,2007

Here is a link to see the NEW AIRBUS A380 landing in LAX.
Click here to view the Video.
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, four-engined airliner manufactured by EADS (Airbus S.A.S.) It first flew on 27 April 2005 from Toulouse, France. Commercial flights are scheduled to begin in late 2007 after lengthy delays. During much of its development phase, the aircraft was known as the Airbus A3XX. The nickname Superjumbo has become associated with the A380.
The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage. This allows for a spacious cabin with 50% more floor space than the next largest airliner, the Boeing 747-400, and provides seating for 555 people in standard three-class configuration or up to 853 people in full economy class configuration.[1] Two models of the A380 are available for sale. The A380-800, the passenger model, is the largest passenger airliner in the world,[2] superseding the Boeing 747. The other model, the A380-800F, if built, will be one of the largest freight aircraft and will have a payload capacity exceeded only by the Antonov An-225.[3] The A380-800 has a maximum range of 15,000 kilometres (8,000 nm, sufficient to fly from Chicago to Sydney nonstop), and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph at cruise altitude).[2]
Due to long delays in production of the A380, two customers cancelled their orders and several launch customers deferred delivery, or considered switching their order to the competing Boeing 747-8 and 777F aircraft, at significant cost to Airbus.[4][5]

Airport Traffic Patterns

As you respond to a emergency call from the Air Traffic Control Tower, you are told that the aircraft in question is on a two mile left base for the active runway. Do you know how much time that gives you to get your emergency vehicles in place, contact your mutual aids, and have your crew prepared for this situation?

The point I am getting at is, you should know your traffic patterns for your runways. Time is not always on your side.
Not only you, but your mutual aids should be familiar with the airfield. Some structural departments are the ARFF crew for a particular airport, others respond to the airport at the request of the ARFF department on the field. Everyone accessing the airfield in an emergency situation should be familiar with the layout and topography.

Part 139 ARFF crews have annual mandatory training, including Airport Familiarization. Invite your structural departments, take the time to show them around the airfield.

Interesting Runway Hold Position Sign

Every time I see this sign I wonder many things.
Who made the sign? Last I looked a compass went up to 360! Who installed the sign, I hope it was for training purposes? Is it included in your sign plan? How confusing could this really be. ATC tells you to Hold Short of 33-15, might you enter into an active runway?

I'm sure this situation was corrected right after the picture was taken. We need to pay close attention during our inspections. As we get accustomed to our airfield, seeing a Hold Position Sign at this location would be normal. If you don't look closely, or driving 75mph you may not pick-up on this discrepancy.

Please take you time doing the Field Inspection, you never know what you'll find!

Don't Just Go Through The Motions!

Part 139 Safety Self-Inspection Program, Don't Just Go Through The Motions (Part 2, The Inspection, Paved Areas)

In part one of this series, we spoke about the basic components of your Safety Self-Inspection program. In part 2 we will discuss Part 139.305, Paved Areas. It is Important to know the Part 139 regulations, and the standards in your approved ACM. Finding the discrepencies is one thing, understanding them, and dealing with them properly is another. All of the rules and regulations are based on the safety of your airfield and those that use it.

When you are inspecting your airfield it consist of more then driving down the runway at a high rate of speed. Yes, sometimes Air Traffic Control (ATC) rush us, or are we allowing them to rush us. We have a job to do and that is to make sure the airfield is safe to be used regardless of the time it takes to complete the duties.

Part 139.305

The certificate holder (The Airport) must maintain, and promptly repair the pavement of, each runway, taxiway, loading ramp, and parking area on the airport that is available for air carrier use.
The pavement edges must not exceed 3 inches difference in elevation between abutting pavement sections and between pavement and abutting areas.
The pavement must have no hole exceeding 3 inches in depth nor any hole the slope of which from any point in the hole to the nearest point at the lip of the hole is 45 degrees or greater, as measured from the pavement surface plane, unless, in either case, the entire area of the hole can be covered by a 5-inch diameter circle.
The pavement must be free of cracks and surface variations that could impair directional control of air carrier aircraft, including any pavement cracks or surface deterioration that produces loose aggregate or other contaminants.
Mud, dirt, sand, loose aggregate, debris, foreign objects, rubber deposits, and other contaminants must be removed promptly and as completely as practicable.

Foreign Object Debris(FOD), needs to be removed immediately. The areas causing the FOD should be monitored and kept clear of FOD until the pavement can be repaired. Pavement breaking up is not the only cause of FOD. Trash, maintenance tools, aircraft and vehicle parts, also cause FOD, just to name a few. All these items can be and will be found on your airfield, and can cause damage to aircraft and injure people. Please pick them up when spotted.

The pavement must be sufficiently drained and free of depressions to prevent ponding that obscures markings or impairs safe aircraft operations.

Weeds need to be completely removed and the cracks need sealing to prevent week growth & deterioration of the pavement.

The "Paser" program that will help you evaluate your pavement conditions. As we know, pavement/concrete is essential for aircraft and vehicles to move about the airfield.
Here are the links to the Paser manuals.
Concrete Airfield Pavement Paser Manual
Asphalt Airfield Pavement Paser Manual

Inspecting the pavement is an essential part of your Daily Self-Inspection Program. Pay close attention to slowly deteriorating areas. No safety issue is to small to report.

In our next post of the "Safety Self-Inspection Program" we will discuss Part 139.307, Safety Areas.

Don't Just Go Through The Motions!

Part 139 Safety Self-Inspection Program, Don't Just Go Through The Motions (Part 1, The Basics)

Part 139 Section 327 governs your Self-Inspection program. Your approved Airport Certification Manual (ACM), Tab 14 will state the procedures for complying with this section. Advisory Circular 150/5200-18(C) will assist you in developing and evaluating your program. A strong Self-Inspection program is essential for the safety of your airport and compliance with Part 139 Subpart D-Operations.

Each airport shall provide the proper equipment to conduct the inspections. A properly marked airport vehicle, two-way radio, checklist and a diagram of the airport. This may vary from airport to airport, but that should cover the basics. Your program should have procedures for
Rapidly disseminating information, The use of the Notices To Airmen System(NOTAMs) . Discrepancies discovered during your inspection may require you to issue a NOTAM. This will be covered more in the NOTAMs section of this Safety Self-Inspection-Series. As we talk more about safety and self-inspections, the training of the personnel conduction these inspection is very important. Your training program should consist of but not limited to: Duties in accordance with the ACM, Airport Familiarization, Movement and Safety Area Procedures, Communications. All training records should be kept on file for a minimum of 24 months. A reporting system must be established To ensure prompt correction to unsafe conditions. Some airports have computerized systems, others have hand written forms. Regardless of the system you use, be sure to disseminate the information in a prompt manner. Your inspections and workorders should we kept on file for at least 12 months।

There are four components of a successful Self-Inspection program: Regularly Scheduled, Continuous Surveillance, Periodic, and Special Inspections.

Regularly Scheduled Inspections are performed daily. According to your Approved ACM these Inspections could be performed two or three times a day.
Continuous Surveillance is an everyday part of your job. Regardless of the activity on your airfield. Construction projects, Fueling events, Wildlife activity, Monitoring ground vehicles, FOD checks. As airport employees, we are the eyes and ears for the safety and security on the airfield.
Periodic Inspections shall be performed weekly, monthly, quarterly, on fueling vehicles, fuel farms, ARFF vehicles, or any other area on the airport to assure compliance with Federal, State and or local regulations.
Special Inspections will be performed after a Accident/Incident, Wildlife strike, Construction, or before a SMGCS operations.
After a accident/incident, the aircraft or responding vehicles could have left FOD on the runway or taxiway, leaving a unsafe condition. Wildlife strikes also leave FOD, this can cause aircraft to loose direction. The carcase can also attract other wildlife for feeding. When your construction crew is finished for the day, inspect the site, make sure all vehicles, and tools are in the right area for the night. All trenches are filled in, and issue or cancel the proper NOTAMs. If applicable to your airport, SMGCS Operations require special attention. You are dealing with very low visibility (600-1200 RVR). Caution needs to be used at all times. Follow your SMGCS plan, make sure the airfield is to standards before allowing aircraft to move about the airfield.

These are the basics of your Safety Self-Inspection Program. If you have a program in place please review and update it annually. If you don't have a program in place, review Advisory Circular 150/5200-18C for a guideline.

This is the first post in out Safety Self-Inspection Program Series. In the next post we will talk about the specific topics within the Self-Inspections.


NATA Safety 1st eToolkit, Issue 31

NATA Safety 1st eTookit Issue 31 is available for download.

Seasonal Ramp Agents Bring More Then A Helping Hand

As the weather begins to improve, we start to think about the busy summer season. Preparations are needed including hiring seasonal staff. In the environment we work in, hiring isn't so easy. With security measures so high, it can take up to two weeks to get a new employee clearance to move about the AOA without an escort! Training the new employee(s) can take a week just to get them out on the ramp to begin On-The Job-Training. We would prefer to rehire experienced employees, but that's not always possible. College students classes start in early September maybe late August. College graduates are beginning their careers. Another option is a foreign student program. In the aviation profession, communications with each other and the captain of the aircraft are every day events. Continually we are communicating over radios. Being able to speak English is a requirement, learning and understanding aviation terms and jargon is essential. These conditions are a major safety concern. The last thing anyone wants is an injury due to lack of or miscommunication. Seasonal employees are not needed year round, so when do you get over the learning curve. If your are not able to rehire experienced help, it never ends.

Take the time to train your seasonal staff. Review your training program annually. Make small changes. Add in new material, take out areas that did not work. As a trainer, supervisor, or instructor, the responsibility lies in your hands. As a ramp agent, take advantage of the training you are given. Ask questions, the only stupid question is the one that is not asked. Your training program should consist of more than watching videos, taking a test and off you go to fuel a 40 million dollar jet. If I, as an instructor had you watch a video, just have a short discussion about it, then i send you out to perform the duty alone, what result should I expect.
Do not allow your staff to perform duties they are not completely comfortable with. If you as they supervisor are busy, send another experienced employee with the student. As they student, request help when your not sure how to complete the duty safely.

If your employees don't understand aviation lingo, or don't speak your language very well you have to be extremely careful। One false move can cause serious injury or death to you or others। NATA has an established Line Service Program, here is the link to there website.

New Airport Safety Self-Inspection DVD Available

The FAA has recently published a new Airport Safety Self-Inspection DVD.
Your Certification Inspector will issue you a copy। If you need it before then you may contact me via email.
You can request a copy from the FAA through this link.

Airport Driver Training, How Far Do We Bend The Rules?

Driver Training is an essential part of the safety on the airport grounds. There are mandatory initial and recurrent driver training programs at some airports. If you drive on the ramps/aprons, from terminal to terminal, or if you drive on the taxiways and runways (movement area) the training you have is very important on a day-to-day basis. What if you are part of the ARFF Department, do you still need driver training? Absolutely! Anyone driving on the AOA should have driver training regardless of their duties।

I'd like to share a story with you.

It's about 5pm, all the administration and maintenance personnel have gone home for the day. There are two ARFF responders on shift. They receive a call from the air traffic control tower (ATCT) to notify them that there is a aircraft inbound with an possible gear problem. Off they go to save the day, well maybe not but they are going to assist in the best possible way. The aircraft lands with no incident, but the pilot makes the decision that he can't taxi the aircraft to the gate and shuts it down on the taxiway. The ARFF vehicle positions on the nose as the aircraft is evacuated. They know have nine souls wondering about the aircraft on the taxiway. At this time there is no one manning the operations office, no one to drive a vehicle to the scene to assist these people that where on the plane. Just then they look up and here comes the FBO passenger bus pulling up to the aircraft. The bus is being driven by a FBO customer service employee that has not had driver training for five years.
The passengers were transported to the terminal with no problem, the aircraft towed to the gate also with no problem. So whats the point you ask? The point is the driver of the bus with expired driver training has entered the movement area. This employee had good intentions of helping the situation but consequently could have hindered it by causing a surface deviation, runway incursion or worse. What if it was another employee working in the FBO and not the one that has prior driving experience? Should the FBO personnel be given driver training? The point is this could have caused more problems then we already had. You have a skeletal ARFF crew trying to get the people to the terminal, tow the aircraft off the taxiway and get the airport up and running. The IC is hard-pressed to effectively, yet efficiently, complete the task at hand. Above all, the FAA, the state and the airport regulations regarding public protection and driver training must take precedence.

This is a very serious issue. An issue that could not be overlooked, and it wasn't. There was no discipline given over the action taken to the situation. It was determined that there would be no further driver training given to the FBO personnel। Sometimes we need to slowdown and think things through. An understanding to the limitations, not only of yourself but the people around you.

Regardless of your driving duties on the airport, safety for you and your co-workers has to be first. Your driver training program should be reviewed and updated annually. Do not compromise safety for efficiency.

Airport Safety & Cross Training, A Nice Mix!

I work in a unique situation. I am a Operations Supervisor, Aircraft Rescue Firefighter, and a Ramp Agent. What a combination. Line service has so much to offer a firefighter.Fueling aircraft, I am near the airplanes every day. Understanding the types of fuels that are being used and there properties. Using ground service equipment, all help when it comes to aircraft emergencies. As for the Operations duties, conducting airfield inspections is best method for Airfield Familiarization. Emergency procedures and operation of the fuel farm are essential duties for the safety of the airport and everyone in and around it. In an emergency situation you need to know the airfield you are working on. When I first started my job I didn't have a good understanding of "Cross Training". Seven years later I have a full understanding and appreciation for how all the duties relate to each other. As you are performing one duty, you are being trained for another. Unique Situation!

There are many topics to discuss here at "Airport Operations Safety". Bookmark our site,check back for new post.

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