Chapter 11. Safety, Ground Operations, & Servicing

Safety Around Airplanes

As with the previously mentioned items, it is important to be aware of propellers. Do not assume the pilot of a taxiing aircraft can see you. Technicians must stay where the pilot can see them while on the ramp area. Turbine engine intakes and exhaust can also be very hazardous areas. There should be no smoking or open flames anywhere near an aircraft in operation. Be aware of aircraft fluids that can be detrimental to skin. When operating support equipment around aircraft, be sure to allow space between it and the aircraft and secure it so it cannot roll into the aircraft. All items in the area of operating aircraft must be stowed properly.

Safety Around Helicopters

Every type of helicopter has its own differences. These differences must be learned to avoid damaging the helicopter or injuring the technician.

When approaching a helicopter while the blades are turning, observe the rotor head and blades to see if they are level. This will allow maximum clearance as you approach the helicopter. Observe the following:

  • Approach the helicopter in view of the pilot.
  • Never approach a helicopter carrying anything with a vertical height that the blades could hit. This could cause blade damage and injury to the person.
  • Never approach a single-rotor helicopter from the rear. The tail rotor is invisible when operating.
  • Never go from one side of the helicopter to the other by going around the tail. Always go around the nose of the helicopter.

When securing the rotor on helicopters with elastometric bearings, check the maintenance manual for the proper method. Using the wrong method could damage the bearing.

Fire Safety

Performing maintenance on aircraft and their components requires the use of electrical tools which can produce sparks, along with heat-producing tools and equipment, flammable and explosive liquids, and gases. As a result, a high potential exists for fire to occur.

Measures must be taken to prevent a fire from occurring and to also have a plan for extinguishing it.

The key to fire safety is knowledge of what causes fire, how to prevent it, and how to put it out. This knowledge must be instilled in each technician emphasized by their supervisors through sound safety programs, and occasionally practiced. Airport or other local fire departments can normally be called upon to assist in training personnel and helping to establish fire safety programs for the hangar, shops, and flight line.

Fire Protection

Requirements for Fire To Occur

Three things are required for a fire: (1) fuel — something that will, in the presence of heat, combine with oxygen, thereby releasing more heat and as a result reduces itself to other chemical compounds; (2) heat — accelerates the combining of oxygen with fuel, in turn releasing more heat; and (3) oxygen — the element which combines chemically with another substance through the process of oxidation. Rapid oxidation, accompanied by a noticeable release of heat and light, is called combustion or burning. [Figure 11-3] Remove any one of these things and the fire extinguishes.

Classification of Fires

For commercial purposes, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has classified fires into three basic types: Class A, Class B, and Class C.

  • Class A fires occur in ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, cloth, paper, upholstery materials, and so forth.
  • Class B fires occur in flammable petroleum products of other flammable or combustible liquids, greases, solvents, paints, and so forth.
  • Class C fires occur involve energized electrical wiring and equipment.

A fourth class of fire, with which the technician should be familiar, the Class D fire, is defined as fire in flammable metal. Class D fires are not commercially considered by the National Fire Protection Association to be a basic type or category of fire since they are caused by a Class A, B, or C fire. Usually Class D fires involve magnesium in the shop or in aircraft wheels and brakes, or are the result of improper or poorly conducted welding operations.

Any one of these types of fires can occur during maintenance on or around, or operations involving, aircraft. There is a particular type extinguisher which is most effective for each type of fire.

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