To Ask or Not To Ask?

What is the proper procedure for topping off a C90 King Air, an older over-wing Hawker, or how about an MU-2? While there are general procedures that are applicable to fueling (or servicing) all aircraft, each aircraft type may have specific procedures that need to be followed to safely complete the operation. Those who have fueled an MU-2 over-wing alone have probably experienced this when trying to recall maximum tip tank differential as one tank drops lower and lower when adding fuel!

This week I was astounded by a phone call I received from an FBO and the story they told me. A line service professional at this FBO asked a transient pilot of a turbojet aircraft to review the specific procedures for refueling his aircraft since he had not fueled this particular aircraft before. To the line technician’s surprise, the pilot was infuriated by this request and stated that the questioning was a a sign that this was a “dangerous operation.” The pilot even called the airport manager and complained about how the question was a sure indication that the FBO was not safely fueling aircraft.

Now, in the interest of being fair, I understand that there are often two sides to every story, but, that being said, it is no wonder why we are all still having to work so hard to instill proper safety culture across our industry.

From the Long-Ez to the G650, general aviation has hundreds if not thousands of aircraft types. Expecting a line service professional to know the specific safety procedures by heart for each one is not practical. If we accept this fact, then the appropriate attitude about safety demands that we instill in our team the notion that if they don’t know how to do something, they should ask! We must follow through with that commitment as well. Punishing someone for asking a question, whether formally or informally through attitudes, anger or even facial expressions, sends the message that “if you don’t know how to do something, figure it out, but don’t ask!”

The goal is to safely fuel the aircraft. And that involves everyone, from the pilot to the refueler to the customer service representative. If each person in that chain accepts their responsibility to ask when they are not completely clear of a task and to assist if needed, we will go a long way to eliminating safety concerns in aircraft refueling. Anything less than that places something else ahead of safety.

I hope the pilot that was involved in that situation runs across this blog. I would like to tell him that what happened on that ramp was not an indication of an unsafe situation but was a clear indication that this FBO valued safety and instilled the proper attitude in their line service professionals!

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Safety 1st Launches the Advanced Line Service Regional Workshop

Today NATA announced the launch of its newest offering, the Advanced Line Service Regional Workshop. The workshop will be held May 14th and 15th at St. Louis Downtown Airport. We are very excited about this launch because this new workshop resulted from listening to you, our members.


This workshop is designed to bring quality in-person training content while keeping the travel costs for participants much lower. The workshop only registration cost is only $175 for NATA members.

The ALS Regional Workshop includes:

  • Both classroom and hands-on training in advanced aviation fuel handling & quality control and the use of portable fire extinguishers (will include live fire practice)
  • Renowned customer service training presented by ServiceElementsTM
  • Leadership training, because being a leader isn’t just the job of your boss!
  • A session we call, Speaking the Language of Aviation

Past Safety 1st seminars included a certificate that met the requirements of 14 CFR 139.321, however, since we now offer that training in an online format, this workshop covers other important topics, including hands-on fire extinguisher training.

For those still wanting 14 CFR 139.321 certification, you can get a discount on this workshop if you sign up for our Supervisor Online or PLST program at the same time (check out our order form here).

At Safety 1st we believe in the value of in-person training. Between interacting directly with industry experts or networking with other attendees, dollars spent on in-person training get the best return. Fortunately with the Advanced Line Service Regional Workshop, it doesn’t take a lot of dollars to get a lot of training value.

Click here to visit the ALS Regional Workshop page to register.

Hope to see many of you in St. Louis in May!

FAA Issues CertAlert – Increases in GSE & Vehicles Hitting and Damaging Aircraft

Yesterday the FAA Airports Office issues a National Part 139 CertAlert titled; Increase in the Numbers of Vehicles and/or Equipment Inadvertently Hitting and Damaging Airplanes in the Ramp/Gate Areas. FAA CertAlerts are a publication designed to “ provid[e] additional guidance on Part 139 Airport Certification and related issues to FAA inspectors and staff” but are also available to airports, industry stakeholders and the public in the interest of increasing safety.

In this CertAlert FAA notes that:

 “There have been several recent accidents in the non-movement area of airports involving vehicles such as food service trucks, airplane tugs, baggage tow vehicles and their carts, and other wheeled vehicle and equipment used to service aircraft. These accidents resulted in people being killed or injured, and/or damaged aircraft.”

Some of FAA’s recommendations include:

a. Conduct a comprehensive review of the Airport Driver’s Training Program and any assigned tenant driver’s training programs for vehicle operations in and around the ramp or gate areas. Continue to emphasize that only those vehicles and vehicle operators necessary to conduct airport/air carrier operations are authorized on the ramp areas.

b. Review, and consider implementing as appropriate, applicable items from the Airport Cooperative Research Program’s (ACRP’s) Synthesis 29, Ramp Safety Practices. You can access the report at

c. Review any existing Letters of Agreement or Memorandums of Understanding involving vehicles and vehicle operators that the airport has with airport tenants, Fixed Base Operators, and airport contracted services. Ensure only essential vehicles have access to the ramp area and operators are appropriately trained.

d. If practical, reduce the number of non-essential or infrequent vehicle operators to lessen the exposure and risk for incidents on the ramp. For example, an airport may wish to review and limit a tenant’s operational area to further reduce potential accidents in the ramp environment.

e. Implement and/or increase the periodic vehicle spot checks by airport operations staff or associated airport law enforcement officers to raise awareness of safe vehicle operations on the ramp area.

The full CertAlert can be downloaded here

The FAA CertAlert webpage is located at:

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