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B763, Luton UK, 2005

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Template:Infobox Ground Occurences


On 16 February 2005, at Luton Airport, a Boeing B767-300 collided with the tug pulling it forward when the shear pin of the unserviceable tow bar being used to pull the aircraft broke. The aircraft ran onto the tug when the ground crew stopped the tug suddenly. As result of the collision with the tug the aircraft fuselage and landing gear was damaged.


The following is an extract from the official Report on the Accident investigated by UK AAIB:

"The aircraft had been pushed back, with engines running, and the ground handling crew was then asked to tow it forward. During the manoeuvre the towbar shear pins failed, the tug was braked to a stop and the aircraft ran into the tug. Ownership of the towbar was not clear and consequently it had not been maintained and was unserviceable. The ground crew’s training had not prepared them for towing an aircraft forwards."

The Investigation

The cause of the accident is identified in the Report in the section addressing the lack of standardisation regarding the oversight of airport airside ground services:

"This accident was the result of ground handling staff being asked to perform, at short notice, a relatively commonplace task. It was, however, unexpected and was a task for which they had not been trained. They were also using a towbar which was not maintained and which was unserviceable as a result of misunderstandings concerning its ownership. Since the push-back manoeuvre was a common one, it is considered that the training to perform it should have fallen into a defined minimum training package for ground staff qualified to handle aircraft in tug and towbar operations. There is no authority which ensures the adequacy of any training curriculum for ground handling staff, merely a general responsibility as defined in JAR-OPS."

Safety Recommendations

The Report produces one Safety Recommendation.

  • "It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority reminds AOC [Air Operator Certificate] holders of their responsibility to ensure that suitable curricula and standards are in place for the training and maintenance of competency of staff involved in the ground handling of commercial aircraft at airports and also that they should require a means of ensuring adherence to those standards. (Safety Recommendation 2006-118)"

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Further Reading