The airport ramp can be a complex environment with airport personnel, passengers, trucks, other vehicles, aircraft, and errant people and animals. The pilot is responsible for the operation of the airplane and should operate safely at all times. Ground operations subject the pilot to unique hazards, and mitigating those hazards requires proper planning and good situational awareness in the ground environment. A mitigation tactic involves reviewing the airport diagram prior to operating and having it readily available at all times. Whether departing to or from the ramp, the pilot needs to understand and capably manage the following:

  1. Refueling operations
  2. Passenger and baggage security and loading
  3. Ramp and taxi operations
  4. Standard ramp signals

During refueling operations, it is advisable that the pilot remove all passengers from the aircraft and witness the refueling to ensure that the correct fuel and quantity is dispensed into the airplane and that any caps and cowls are properly secured after refueling.

Passengers may have little experience with the open ramp of an airport. The pilot should ensure the safety of the passengers by cautioning them to move on the surface only as directed. If not under the pilot’s direct supervision, passengers should have an escort to ensure their safety and ramp security. Baggage loading and security should also be supervised by the pilot. Unsecured baggage or improperly loaded baggage may adversely affect the center of gravity of the aircraft.

Ramp traffic may vary from a deserted open space to a complex environment with heavy corporate or military aircraft. Powerful aircraft may produce exhaust blast or rotor downwash, for example, which could easily cause a light airplane to become uncontrollable. Mitigating these hazards in a light airplane is important to starting off on a safe flight.

Some ramps may be staffed by personnel to assist the pilot in managing a safe departure from the ramp to the taxiway. Figure shows standard aircraft taxiing signals, such as those published in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). There are other standard signals, such as those published in Advisory Circular 00-34, as revised, and by the Armed Forces. Furthermore, operation conditions in many areas may call for a modified set of taxi signals. The signals shown in Figure represent a minimum number of the most commonly used signals. Whether this set of signals or a modified set is used is not the most important consideration, as long as each flight operational center uses a suitable, agreed-upon set of signals.

Aircraft Ground Operations
Standard hand signals used to assist pilots in managing a safe departure from the ramp to the taxiway or runway. Note that at night, the Emergency Stop signal is used for all stop indications