Airport aprons are unique places to work. With high volumes of staff working to maintain, service and support the aircrafts and their passengers, it follows that the risk of an airside incident can be significant. Add to this, the all-weather nature of the work and the quick turnaround time required from baggage handlers, safety services, catering support, fuel engineers and all the while having to meet regulatory requirements, and the airside work environment is a pressured one!
What makes the airside driver’s role so unique?
For starters, there isn’t a standardised airside speed limit. That’s not to say you’ll see vehicles careering along at 120mph. No, it’s more likely that each airport has conducted their own risk assessments and decided the safest speeds for their airport. Apron passenger buses, belt loaders, tug vehicles, fuel trucks – there are a wide range of ground handling vehicles that have a role to play on the airport apron, and this is before we get to the planes themselves. A driver of any one of these vehicles has a lot to consider. Coupled with the highly unusual driving conditions, there’s also the need to listen and respond to two-way radios and personal data units.
Are airside vehicle incidents common?
You may remember the Heathrow airside vehicle crash back in 2018 that led to injury, a fatality, a serious injury and countless delayed flights. Thankfully, this isn’t the norm and serious airside incidents are relatively uncommon (check out the 2021 IATA Safety Report for more). However, incidents such as speeding, incursions, minor vehicle accidents and other road safety incidents do occur more frequently and at a higher risk than public road incidents.
Of course, there’ll never be a way to rule out incidents entirely but, with the right software, training and data gathering, it is possible to ensure your airside vehicle drivers are considerably less likely to have an incident.
Can training reduce the likelihood of incident?
In a 2019 study on airside incidents at an airport, it was found that with the AIRDAT training, an airside incident was 4.5 times less likely to occur when compared to ‘in house’ training provided by companies at airports.
So, yes! Suitable and ongoing training is imperative for staff in the aviation industry but, with high staff numbers, employee turnover and (now more than ever) large numbers of new starters and trainees, organising airside driver training can be a complex process.
London Gatwick Airport lowered their incident risk with AIRDAT
Gatwick Airport employ a 10,000-strong fleet of airside drivers who all require up-to-date permits and regular training. The administrative staff were doing their best to stay in control but with various methods of record keeping in place, they had to manually enter data whilst attempting to stay on top of 10,000+ permit expirations. The Gatwick team knew that they had to improve and streamline their processes and called upon AIRDAT Passport Safety System for support.
The AIRDAT team worked closely with the Airport management personnel to create a bespoke solution that solved the challenges Gatwick was facing, improve training and lower the risk of airside incident. In addition to providing the Passport system that consolidated existing processes into one, easy-to-use booking, training and data collection system, AIRDAT provide the complete training package to Gatwick – writing material, creating assets, delivering the course and providing the tour, facility and testing equipment for a community of over ten thousand airside drivers.
The results were hugely welcomed by the Gatwick team who saw a 75% decrease in administration and airside drivers trained by AIRDAT 4.5 times less likely to have an airside incident.
How AIRDAT can help airports to lower their risk of incident
The AIRDAT team make life simpler for airport managers and training facilitators. Our bespoke Airside Driver training package and Passport training system is an easy-to-use, cloud-based software that can consolidate all of your existing systems into one. Plus, our highly experienced IOSH and RTITB training facilitators can help you to reach full compliance to lower your airside incident rates.
Find out how to lower your airports risk of an airside driver incident, contact the AIRDAT team today.
Source: AIRDAT Passport System