Failure to conduct practical driving assessments jeopardizes airside safety

posted on 28th November 2019 by Eddie Saunders
Failure to conduct practical driving assessments jeopardizes airside safety

Airports are putting operations and people at risk by failing to assess practical driving ability before issuing apron Airside Driving Permit (ADP), warns RTITB Airside.

Often an ADP for apron roads is issued simply on the basis that the applicant has completed a theory training course and test,” says Laura Nelson, Managing Director for training consultancy RTITB Airside.

But without a practical driving assessment, how can employers be sure that drivers have the road craft and driving skills required to work safely in an airport?”

Even after having completed an ADP theory course and test, the most experienced driver may still find it challenging to drive a vehicle on airside roads and aprons,” she continues.

For instance, the airside operating environment is vastly different to an ‘everyday’ driving scenario. Any number of activities might be taking place at one time, and often within the confines of relatively small working areas such as aircraft stands or baggage halls. Airside drivers typically need to be aware of pedestrian airport workers, airline passengers, baggage handlers and their vehicles, cars, buses, HGVs, a variety of other ground handling equipment, aircraft, and more.

Drivers also need a detailed understanding of road markings and signage and airport bylaws, such as speed limits, parking regulations, aircraft stand rules. Plus, should have the ability to cope with the almost constant distraction of pressure, noise, visual inputs and communications equipment.

Conducting a practical airside driving assessment before issuing an ADP clearly shows whether an individual actually has the ability to drive in this challenging and stressful environment before they are given permission to do so,” Laura says.

You cannot just rely on driving license entitlements and a theory test to give you this information.

Practical assessments also play an important role in ensuring consistent driving standards before a permit is issued, especially in operations employing migrant workers. Driving standards, airport bylaws and operating procedures vary internationally, so acceptable driving standards in one country, may not adequately prepare a driver for a job in another.

Practical assessment allows employers to check that drivers can meet the required minimum standard, no matter where their driving license was issued,” says Laura, explaining that it is also an ideal opportunity to check a driver’s understanding of signage and road markings, even if these are not in their native language.

Typically, a practical assessment of driving ability in the airside environment is not a requirement as part of the ADP application process,” she continues.

However, we believe that it is critically important for ensuring airfield safety and should be best practice for any responsible business with airside operations.

RTITB Airside works with major airports, ground handlers and airlines training in-house trainers and collaboratively developing engaging training materials, programmes and courseware. This includes developing solutions for ADP ‘training with practical assessment, all focused on improving efficiency, turnaround times and safety.