The National Academies

ACRP 04-07 [Completed]

Comparison of Airport Apron Management and Control Programs With and Without Regulatory Oversight

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Ricondo & Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Colleen E. Quinn
Effective Date: 5/8/2009
Completion Date: 8/7/2010
Comments: Results published in ACRP Report 62 and Research Results Digest 15.


The recent International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) universal safety audit of the United States recommended that FAA regulate operations on airport aprons by establishing an apron management service that meets the provisions of ICAO Annex 14, Paragraph 9.5.1. In simple terms, an “apron management service” would require ramp control and the establishment of practices and procedures that would improve safety by reducing the risk of aircraft and vehicle collisions and injury or death to persons on the apron. For the remainder of this request for proposals (RFP), an “apron management service” is referred to as an apron management and control program and the terms “apron” and “ramp” should be considered synonymous. It should also be noted that ICAO refers to countries as states. However, in this RFP, “country” will be used to refer to any ICAO state other than the United States.

In the United States, the airport operator does not typically control or manage air carrier apron operations. These operations usually occur on leased apron areas where the carrier or its ground handler has exclusive access and responsibility for operations. Because this  area is leased, the responsibility for the safety of operations rests with the leaseholder.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) also issued a report on Aviation Runway and Ramp Safety (November 2007) that recommended the FAA “work with the aviation industry and OSHA to develop a mechanism to collect and analyze data on ramp accidents and, if the analysis shows it is warranted, develop a strategic plan aimed at reducing accidents involving workers, passengers, and aircraft in the ramp area.” The GAO also recommended that the FAA “…consider ramp safety practices being followed in other countries.”

Given that there is no clear consensus on the best and most efficient approach for improving apron safety, this topic could clearly benefit from a study of the methods other countries use to regulate or manage apron safety at airports within their jurisdictions. The research should compare and evaluate the effectiveness of apron management and control programs at airports in countries that regulate such programs versus airports in the United States. 


The objective of this project is to compare and evaluate the safety benefits of apron management and control programs in countries that regulate airport apron operations under ICAO Annex 14, Paragraph 9.5.1, with those programs and services at similar types of airports in the United States.

Research Objective #2
: Discern airports/airlines that permit towbarless tractor operations in movement and non-movement areas. Collect sufficient data that will enable a thorough analysis of these operations and development of Best Management Practices for these vehicles on the airport. Provide guidance for airports to develop and implement rules and regulations for the safe use of these vehicles.

Status:  Research is complete, and the results have been published as ACRP Report 62, Airport Apron Management and Control Programs. The results of Objective #2 have been published separately as Research Results Digest 15, Use of Towbarless Tractors at Airports—Best Practices.

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