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Report: Ground operations occurrences at Australian airports 1998 to 2008
17 June 2010

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released a study of ground operations occurrences at Australian airports from 1998 to 2008. The key to preventing ground occurrences appears to revolve around ensuring effective communication between pilots, ground crews and air traffic services through a process of checks and balances.

The aviation industry has been slow to acknowledge the risks associated with ground operations. While most occurrences on airport aprons and taxiways do not have consequences in terms of loss of life, they are often associated with aircraft damage, delays to passengers and avoidable financial costs to industry.
The most common contributing factor to ground operations occurrences were individual actions. For occurrences between 1998 and 2008, these most frequently involved action errors, where a person deviated either from plans or standard operating procedures. Common examples were towbar connection procedures and pushback errors, like turning back too sharply with the tug and damaging the nose or landing gear of the aircraft. Less frequently, individual action errors were associated with a violation, information, or decision error. Violations involved a deliberate intention to deviate from standard operating procedures. Examples included opening the doors while the aircraft anti-collision beacon was operating, or vehicle drivers failing to give-way to aircraft on the apron or taxiways. Decision errors indicated that planned actions were not adequate for the situation; for example,

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