Flightline safety important to get aircraft flying

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bryan McMahon
  • 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Of all the places to work on base, the flightline could very well be one of the most dangerous. Fighter operations, live-bomb loading, and emergency vehicles responding are just some of the hazards flightline personnel experience every day and night.

Despite the myriad of potential hazards, there is one underlying mindset that keeps the number of people going home at the end of the day the same as the number who came to work in the morning, the safety mindset. Many different specialties work on the flightline. Some particulars of flighline safety are specific to your job, but there are many aspects to flightline safety that apply to all personnel who work on the flightline.

Always wear your personal protective equipment while working on the flightline. Loud noises, hazardous chemicals and extreme temperatures are just some of the hazards PPE can protect you from. If you are working around aircraft with engines running, make sure your wearing double hearing protection. During fueling, wear goggles, gloves and have your T.O. handy. For wipe downs, you will need to have goggles, naptha gloves, long sleeve shirt, doors open at least ten feet, and your trusty T.O. PPE protects you from the flightline hazards that could damage you for life! If you have any doubt on what the proper PPE is for a given job, just refer to the T.O. Don't take short cuts. If you think you look silly wearing goggles, think how silly it would be to be blind in one eye when you could have avoided a hazard by simply wearing the correct PPE. 

Wingmen are important to us in so many different ways, on and off duty, and the flightline is certainly no different. Have wingmen around to look over your work. If you have a question about something, ask him about it before you make a costly mistake that could damage expensive equipment or even worse, damage you. Never let your wingman down. Wingmen save lives! 

Use your T.O. Have it handy during the job! Following the T.O. prevents accidents from happening. The T.O. is a checklist that provides you with all the information you need to do a job correctly. Even the slightest detail missed could mean jeapordizing the mission, or even worse, getting someone killed. You think your saving time not using it? Just see how much more time will be spent explaining what happened or could have happened. Be smart, do the job the right way. 

Quality Assurance is a part of flightline safety because their job is to make sure you are doing the job correctly and safely. Have a question? Ask QA. They are very experienced maintenance NCOs who have just as much interest in preventing accidents as you do. 

Check the forms before working on the aircraft to ensure the jet is safe for maintenance. You must follow the job in your T.O. to do the safe for maintenance procedures. 

Situational awareness is the key to flightline safety. You must always be aware of your surroundings and be in control of your environment. While walking around the aircraft, be aware of the antennas, leading and trailing edges. The F-117A has sharp points on the landing-gear doors, spoilers located in the weapons bays, and hot probes. If the jet is in a poorly lit area, lead with your hand so you're protecting your face as you walk under the jet. Always watch out for taxiing aircraft, moving vehicles and aerospace ground equipment. 

As you can see, flightline safety plays a very important role in maintaining fully mission capable aircraft and a safe working environment for all maintenance personnel. So, do your part, look out for your fellow Airmen and do the job correctly and safely!