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New ICAO publication (Doc 10121)

Doc 10121, Manual on Ground Handling. First edition, 2019.


Ground handling forms a significant and critical part of the aviation industry. Larger aircraft, an increase in ground support equipment and faster turnarounds all contribute to the challenge of improving operational safety. With the growth of air traffic and the proliferation of third party ground handling companies, ground operations on airport aprons have become increasingly complex and potentially hazardous.


It is important that the safety, reliability and consistency of flight operations continue on the ground. Apron areas are often the most congested and busiest areas of an airport with aircraft turnarounds being carried out under significant space and time constraints. Unlike other areas of the aviation industry, the ground handling sector is currently not subject to the level of regulation in areas such as flight operations, air traffic management and aerodrome operations. However, some States already plan to better regulate ground handling activities.


For several years the air operator, aerodrome and ground handling sectors of industry, together with a number of State regulators, have been concerned with the level and extent of damage to aircraft during ground handling and the rate of safety occurrences to aircraft, passengers and airport workers. This concern continues to be shared internationally by various groups and organizations.


The Manual on Ground Handling addresses these concerns and was developed in close cooperation with industry representatives to benefit from the experience and expertise of those working “hands on” in aircraft turnaround operations.


The guidance in this manual represents “accepted industry good practice” that has been proven in the field. Care should be taken when using the material and guidance as it might not be applicable or appropriate for use in all States or organizations. There may also be some overlap with State occupational health and safety regulations that protect personnel working airside; however, this manual shows how both aircraft and personnel safety can be included in an appropriate safety management system (SMS).

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