Flight Line Safety | Aircraft Systems

Flight Line Safety

Hearing Protection

safety around aircraft and helicopter
The flight line is a place of dangerous activity. Technicians who perform maintenance on the flight line must constantly be aware of what is going on around them. The noise on a flight line comes from many places. Aircraft are only one source of noise. There are auxiliary power units (APUs), fuel trucks, baggage handling equipment, and so forth. Each has its own frequency of sound. Combined all together, the noise on the ramp or flight line can cause hearing loss.

There are many types of hearing protection available. Hearing protection can be external or internal. Earmuffs or headphones are considered external protection. The internal type of hearing protection fits into the auditory canal. Both types reduce the sound level reaching the eardrum and reduce the chances of hearing loss.

Hearing protection is essential when working with pneumatic drills, rivet guns, or other loud tools. Even short duration exposure to these sounds can cause hearing loss because of their high frequency. Continued exposure will cause hearing loss.


Foreign Object Damage (FOD)

Foreign object damage (FOD) is any damage to aircraft, personnel, or equipment caused by any loose object. These loose objects can be anything, such as broken runway concrete, shop towels, safety wire, etc. To control FOD, keep ramp and operation areas clean, have a tool control program, and provide convenient receptacles for used hardware, shop towels, and other consumables.

Never leave tools or other items around the intake of a turbine engine. The modern gas turbine engine creates a low-pressure area in front of the engine that causes any loose object to be drawn into the engine. The exhaust of these engines can propel loose objects great distances with enough force to damage anything that is hit. The importance of a FOD program cannot be overstressed when a technician considers the cost of engines, components, or a human life.

Safety Around Airplanes

As with the previously mentioned items, it is important to be aware of propellers. Technicians cannot assume the pilot of a taxiing aircraft can see them and must stay within the pilot’s view while on the ramp area. Turbine engine intakes and exhaust can also be very hazardous areas. Smoking or open flames are not permitted anywhere near an aircraft in operation. Be aware of aircraft fluids that can be detrimental to skin. When operating support equipment around aircraft, be sure to allow space between it and the aircraft, and secure it so it cannot roll into the aircraft. All items in the area of operating aircraft must be stowed properly.


Safety Around Helicopters

Every type of helicopter has different features. These differences must be learned to avoid damaging the helicopter or injuring the technician. When approaching a helicopter while the blades are turning, adhere to the following guidelines to ensure safety. [Figure 2]
  • Observe the rotor head and blades to see if they are level. This allows maximum clearance when approaching the helicopter.
  • Approach the helicopter in view of the pilot.
  • Never approach a helicopter carrying anything with a vertical height that the blades could hit. This could cause blade damage and injury to the individual.
  • Never approach a single-rotor helicopter from the rear. The tail rotor is invisible when operating.
  • Never go from one side of the helicopter to the other by going around the tail. Always go around the nose of the helicopter.

When securing the rotor on helicopters with elastomeric bearings, check the maintenance manual for the proper method. Using the wrong method could damage the bearing.

flight line safety
Figure 2. Safety around helicopter

Fire Safety

Performing maintenance on aircraft and their components requires the use of electrical tools that can produce sparks, heat-producing tools and equipment, flammable and explosive liquids, and gases. As a result, a high potential exists for fire to occur. Measures must be taken to prevent a fire from occurring and to have a plan for extinguishing it. The key to fire safety is knowledge of what causes a fire, how to prevent it, and how to put it out. This knowledge must be instilled in each technician, emphasized by their supervisors through sound safety programs, and occasionally practiced. Airport or other local fire departments can normally be called upon to assist in training personnel and helping to establish fire safety programs for the hangar, shops, and flight line.


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