Aircraft turnround

A significant proportion of the serious accidents reported to HSE occur during aircraft turnround. Turnround times have become increasingly shorter with many activities being undertaken, often by different companies. During a turnround typical activities may include:

  • approaching aircraft with engines running;
  • passenger disembarkation and embarkation;
  • baggage/cargo handling;
  • aircraft maintenance;
  • fuelling;
  • de-icing;
  • catering provision;
  • cleaning.

General precautions to reduce the risk of injury during turnround

All companies involved in the turnround, whether they are the airline, airport operator or a service provider, should:

  • assess the risks to their own employees and put in place measures to control these risks;
  • assess the risks to other employees and put in place measures to control these risks;
  • co-operate and co-ordinate with all of the other employers involved in turnround;
  • have in place a system to control and manage any contractors;
  • have in place a system to monitor the activity at the turnround.

Approaching aircraft with engines running

There is a general rule airside that no-one should approach an aircraft while the engines are running and the anti-collision lights are on, except in very specific circumstances. There have been discussions with the industry about the increasing practice of connecting Ground Power Unit (GPU) while the aircraft engines are running, and the potential risks to airside workers.
Following an incident at Edinburgh Airport HSE issued the following advice in an open letter to the industry in February 2011 about risk assessment, management of aircraft turnround, and acceptable safe operating procedures.

Letter to industry

Case study: Air Canada – aircraft turnround

This case study is provided by Air Canada on aircraft turnround. Significant reductions in the number of accidents during turnround have been made as a result of implementing this plan.

Further information can be found in the Air Canada Turnround Summary with additional detail in the Air Canada Turnround Plan.

Further information

Information on turnround can be found in:

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Updated 2024-06-06