Safe system of work: Aircraft incidents

Control Measure Knowledge

To minimise the possibility of ignition, the scene of the incident should made a ‘no smoking or vaping’ and ‘no naked light’ area. Other sources of ignition, such as radios, mobile phones, generators or vehicles should be excluded from the scene of the incident if they could be an ignition hazard.

If there is a risk of ignition, it may be appropriate to set up firefighting equipment around the scene of the incident. It may also be appropriate to apply foam blanketing.

If the incident occurs on or adjacent to an aerodrome, the incident commander should liaise with the aerodrome rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS), aircraft engineers or the aircrew to obtain specialist advice.

In addition to the aerodrome rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS) responding to aircraft accidents on, or adjacent to aerodromes, a number of aerodrome agencies may also attend, providing useful resources.

Rendezvous point (RVP) management will also be controlled at aircraft accidents on or adjacent to aerodromes. Control measure – Safe system of work: Approaching a transport network incident.

If the incident occurs away from the aerodrome the incident commander should liaise with the aircrew if possible, and seek specialist advice.

Isolation of aircraft engines and systems

The pilot or engineers will normally shut down aircraft systems. However, in an emergency situation some systems may still be active and need to be controlled.

Isolation or control of aircraft systems should be carried out by trained personnel; these are not actions that personnel would be knowledgeable enough to carry out.

Safe distances, based on the size of engines should be considered. However, engines that are cold and undamaged should not present hazards.

If it is necessary to attend an aircraft with engines that are running, the incident commander should ensure that personnel are not put at risk by engine intakes, engine exhausts or propellers that are turning or that have the potential to turn. Intakes are more dangerous than exhausts, as personnel could be drawn into the aircraft engine intake. Engines that are running should be isolated at the earliest opportunity.

To minimise the risk to personnel of being drawn into engines or being injured as a result of a propeller strike, personnel should not approach the front of any engine that is running or could possibly be running. The recommended safety distance is 10m away from the front and sides of any engine.

Isolation of aircraft fuel

Aircraft fuel isolation switches are usually found in the cockpit and should be clearly marked.

Fuel may be carried in a number of interconnected tanks, located in the:

  • Wings
  • Fuselage
  • Tail

Pipework, usually made of a light alloy, runs throughout the aircraft frame for:

  • Delivering fuel to the engines
  • Transferring fuel between tanks
  • Filling and emptying the fuel tanks
  • Venting the tanks
  • Jettisoning fuel from the tanks

The fuel pipework in an aircraft is concentrated in the wings and centre section. However, fuel pipework may extend to the rear of the aircraft to supply the auxiliary power unit and to service optional fuel tanks if located in the tail. The routing of fuel lines is a key consideration if carrying out space creation activities for an aircraft.

Normally there are no fuel pipelines forward of the centre section of a commercial aircraft. However, in some light and military aircraft, fuel lines may run forwards, depending on the location of the aircraft engine and the inflight refuelling capabilities.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions