Eight Best Practices to Prevent Hangar Rash or Worse

Hangar rash sounds nasty and is the bane of all FBOs.

We’ve all seen it. A line service technician gets in a hurry repositioning a GIV in a hangar and bangs the tail into another Gulfstream.

Say the estimated cost to repair the damage is $175,000. Assume the FBO’s insurance deductible is $25,000. That $25,000 is a big hit to the bottom line.

How does an FBO reduce the risk of this kind of incident? The answer is having a strong safety culture that invests in proper training of line personnel with a defined set of hangar and ramp movement practices as part of standard operating procedures (SOP).

Develop your SOPs with your line service management team, including your safety manager, line service supervisor, general manager and senior line technicians. Do an analysis of the physical layout of your ramp, taxiway entrances and exits, and hangar locations.

To prevent hangar rash, we recommend these eight best practices:

1. Use a minimum of two wing walkers for hangar stacking. We recommend three for night operations.
2. Use a minimum of one wing walker for open ramp towing.
3. Do not tow without wing walkers.
4. Wing walkers should wear proper personal protection equipment (PPE), including whistles in the mouth while towing. If the whistle is blown, all towing procedures stop.
5. Create a visual reference for your towing team in hangars by painting a highly visible line on the floor two or three feet away from walls. No part of an aircraft should be over the lines.
6. Mark the walls of the hangar with a contrasting color line about eight feet up from the floor to improve depth perception.
7. Paint the hangar beams with bright colors and indicate height variances because most ceiling beams taper down toward the exterior walls.
8. Consider the use of hangar stacking and ramp parking software. This technology depicts scaled aircraft and allows tagging of aircraft with the registration number. FBOs can program data such as departure time, placement in the hangar or ramp parking positioning. Think U.S. Navy aircraft carrier flight operations!

Also include the following guidelines from the IATA Ground Operations Manual, 8th Edition, in your SOPs. The FBO establishes requirements for wing walkers. The presence of such personnel may also be controlled or restricted by local rules, regulations and/or security issues.

Where applicable, the wing walker or other personnel must:

1. Be under the direction of responsible ground crew at all times.
2. Use two marshalling wands, either day wands or illuminated wands at night.
3. Be positioned before and during movement of aircraft:
          1. Approximately three feet outboard of the wingtip.
          2. In line with the rearmost main gear wheel.
          3. Must maintain visual contact with person responsible for pushback/towing.
4. Make sure the aircraft movement path is clear of any obstruction.
5. Provide Safe to Proceed clearance signals at all times.
6. Monitor the aircraft’s path until the aircraft has stopped at its parking space or point of departure.
7. Be ready to signal a stop of procedures. If, at any time during the aircraft movement, the wing walkers are unsure or identify an imminent danger, the tug driver should be signaled to stop with a blow of the whistle.
8. Remain in position until the responsible ground crew member or tug driver stops the towing operation and the wing walker places the chocks on the main wheel and nose wheel per the SOP.
9. Place safety cones around the aircraft in accordance with the SOP.
10. Wait to be released from the towing operation by the tug driver or responsible ground crew member.

To complement these safety guidelines, we recommend further training. NATA Safety 1st is organized in a useful manner for new employees. It is recommended that FBOs complete the training curriculum for Safety 1st Modules 1 and 2 for all wing walkers.

On-the-job training for new wing walkers needs to be completed once the computer instruction in Safety 1st is finished. It is recommended that the new trainee be assigned to a supervisor line service technician for further practical training and assisting with towing and ramp operations.

As a noncertified wing walker, the trainee should never be the sole individual during a towing operation. Once the supervisor feels the trainee is ready, a performance test should be completed successfully. The test will consist of both verbal questions and observation of the trainee during actual towing/ramp operations.

SOPs and training are necessary for a safe towing and ramp operation. A strong safety committee, as well a flourishing safety culture, is the best line of defense for mitigating risk in your operations.

Please leave any comments you have about this blog post below. If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email:, 404-867-5518;, 972-979-6566.

John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience and is an IS-BAH Accredited auditor. Ron Jackson is co-founder of Aviation Business Strategies Group and president of The Jackson Group, a PR agency specializing in FBO marketing and customer service training. Visit the biography page or for more background.


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Source: AC-U-KWIK Alert (03/28/19)