This publication is presented as an information guide for banner tow operations, to promote safe operations through careful preparation and planning. For preparation and planning, administrative concerns are also addressed.

FAA investigations of aerial advertising/banner towing accidents have revealed that the majority of the accidents are associated with one or more of the following circumstances: the banner pickup maneuver, entangled or snarled banner towlines, or loss of engine power. An analysis of banner tow accidents has revealed the following information:

Of the accidents resulting in ditching in rivers, lakes, or the ocean, the aircraft may have been capable of landing on shore. Sometimes the decision is made to ditch in order to protect the public on congested beaches or riverbanks.

Of the accidents caused by engine failure resulting in an off airport landing, the accidents could have easily occurred offshore. In one ditching accident, the pilot was saved by the timely appearance of a person on a personal watercraft. This person prevented the incapacitated pilot from drowning. The pilot did not have any flotation device. Pilots of banner tow aircraft operated over water should have the capability to save themselves in the first critical minutes of a ditching accident. FAA-approved flotation devices should be readily available.

Lifeguard stations along riverbanks or beaches are generally not equipped to respond to offshore aviation accidents. Lifeguards are normally not trained to deal with the HAZMAT issues of released fuel and oil and may not be familiar with the aircraft exits and seat belt assemblies. It is recommended that an FAA-approved personal flotation device be carried in the aircraft when banner tow flying along beaches, rivers, or lakes.

The FAA would like to thank everyone who participated in the development of this publication, especially the support provided by Aerial Sign Company, Inc., of Hollywood, Florida.

This publication can be viewed and down-loaded off the Internet at Universal Resource Locators:,,, and, under the heading, “Information and Advisories.” /s/ Robert A. Wright Manager, General Aviation and Commercial Division

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