ARISE Safety

Working Around Aircraft 

General Operational Safety Guidelines 

During a NASA Airborne Science Mission, participants will be working at the aircraft 

home base or mission host facility. There are some generally accepted rules, guidelines 

and pointers for working at an aircraft facility that everyone should remember and follow. 

These rules and guidelines will apply to all Airborne Science Missions managed by the 

Earth Science Project Office (ESPO). 

Mission General Guidelines and Safety Refresher 

If you have never worked on an aircraft, in or around a hangar or on a military base 

before, these “Dos and Don’ts” may not be familiar to you………..or, they may have 

slipped your mind! 

Following is a list of the most generally applicable ones. The ESPO will modify/add to 

these as necessary for each individual mission and post them on that mission page. Also, 

ESPO may hold an Orientation session when you first arrive at the facility. If so, you will 

receive an Orientation Package that will have pertinent information for working in the 

host facility. Common sense is your best friend. If you don’t know what is safe….ASK. 

 

AIRCRAFT - WORKING AROUND / ON AN AIRCRAFT 

 CREW CHIEF/MISSION MANAGER (aircraft point of contact) 

 These are the “owners” of any aircraft involved in one of our missions. 

 Nothing is done in, on or around an aircraft without notifying one or both 

 of them………EVER. 

 ACCESS 

 There is NEVER any access to an aircraft without the Crew Chief or his 

 deputy’s knowledge and approval. That means that if you arrive at a 

 brilliant solution to your instrument problem or just now remembered that 

 you have to fill that dewar or pull that card and you find there is no Crew 

 Chief around to give you permission to touch the plane, you will have to

 wait until he or someone he designates is there!

 This rule applies to any aircraft, not just “our” mission aircraft. If there are 

 other resident or transient aircraft in the hangar, don’t touch or approach 

 these aircraft without permission from their crew. 

 If you have an urgent situation and cannot contact the Crew Chief or 

 Mission Manager, talk to someone in the ESPO.  Pay Attention To The:

 “Prop Arc”……..DON’T walk through it! Even if there is no power on the 

 plane! 

 Engine Intake……..............DON’T lean on it or hold onto it or lay things 

 down in it! 

 Ground lines………DON’T trip over them or pull them loose! 

 Leading edges, Wing tips, Protruding antennas, Probes, “Remove Before 

 Flight” Flags……these are all things waiting to put bumps on your 

 head………or worse! 

 Skin and structure of the aircraft itself…….if you happen to be 

 pushing a cart or an instrument or a tank of gas or carrying 

 something ( a ladder? a pile of boxes? ) that can put a dent or a 

 gash in an airplane………Please ask for assistance! 

 CREW ACCESS 

 Pay attention to where the crew are and what they are doing, they also 

 need to have access to the plane! 

 “FOD” - Foreign Object Damage 

 This is the term for any object that can cause damage to a plane, a person 

 or anything else by being sucked into an engine, blown by an exhaust or 

 a prop-wash OR by getting lodged somewhere in or on the aircraft. That 

 means not only out on the hangar floor or the aircraft ramp but in the 

 cargo spaces, equipment bays, instrument pods OR in the cockpit!! 

 So, when you are working around the plane, remove jewelry, hats, glasses, 

 pocket protectors, pens, pencils, tools, I.D badges, change…..in short, 

 anything loose, in or out of your pockets or hanging on you. 

 It also means if you see something lying on the floor or around the plane, 

 Please pick it up and put it away or dispose of it properly! 

 TOOLS 

 When you are working in a NASA hangar during an integration or a 

 mission, there are stringent “Tool Use Policies” in force to protect the 

 aircraft. Any tools that are not instrument specific and are needed for use 

 on an aircraft or in the hangar by the instrument teams, must come from a 

 designated tool chest and must be logged out and in. If a tool is discovered 

 to be missing when an inventory is done, all aircraft in the hangar could be 

 grounded until the tool is located. 

 Your instrument specific tools also will need to be accounted for and that 

 procedure can be obtained from the Crew Chief or Mission Manager. 

 

 When we are at a non-NASA facility, the same care must be taken to track  and account for tools. Please read the section on “FOD” above. 

HANGAR - WORKING IN AN AIRCRAFT HANGAR 

 HANGAR MANAGER 

 This is the host facility person responsible for everything that goes on in 

 the hangar. The Project Office is the mission liaison to this manager and 

 all interface with him should be done through ESPO. 

 ACCESS 

 Access to the hangar for our mission participants is arranged prior to the 

 mission between the ESPO and the Airport or Base Management, it is not 

 necessarily the provision of the Hangar Manager. 

 Hangar access at any airfield has always been limited but now is much 

 more heavily restricted and controlled. Access is for mission participants

 only and any exceptions must be arranged through the ESPO. 

 

 HANGAR DOORS 

 Don’t touch them or move them without the crew. 

 FIRE LANES, ACCESS ZONES, CAUTION ZONES 

 On the floor of a hangar you may see red or yellow painted lines 

 describing areas of caution and aircraft towing and parking lines: 

 “Fire Lanes” and areas in front of power panels and chemical cabinets 

 must be kept free of any obstructions. 

 Sometimes our mission hangar is shared with resident or other transient 

 aircraft. Aircraft tow and park lines may be used by mission or 

 other aircraft and should be kept clear. 

 

 CORDS/LINES 

 There are almost always power lines, grounding lines, communication 

 lines, possibly air lines lying across the hangar floor. If they will remain 

 for more than a few minutes, they should be covered by a metal, plastic or 

 wood cover to prevent tripping. Please ask for assistance from the crew or 

 ESPO. 

 SHIPPING / RECEIVING 

 A Shipping/Receiving area may be set up in the hangar by ESPO to 

 accommodate the daily shipments common during a mission. You will 

 need to check this area every day and remove anything that has arrived for 

 your group so the pile doesn’t build up. 

 A shipping crate storage area may be set aside by ESPO to handle your 

 crates and boxes when they are empty. Do not allow shipping materials to  pile up in the hangar except in designated areas, especially in fire lanes! 

 

 VEHICLES 

 Mission participants are not allowed to drive powered vehicles of any kind 

 inside a hangar without permission from the ESPO. 

 

 “FOD” 

 Again, “FOD” is any object that can be blown, dropped or projected into 

 a person or aircraft (or anything else) to cause damage. Within the 

 confines of an aircraft hangar that usually means something dropped on 

 the floor or left on a surface. 

 If you see anything that fits that bill, pick it up and find out who it belongs 

 to or where it goes. 

 

 GASSES/CRYOGENS/HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES (WMD????) 

 Training: All those who use these types of substances should be properly 

 trained. 

 MSDS Sheets: This info must be available just like in your home lab. 

 Whether you ship your supplies from home or have them delivered 

 from a local vendor, make sure you have it. 

 Protection Gear: When you are handling gasses or cryogens you must 

 have the proper protection gear for doing so. Anyone who handles 

 these items knows what gear is required. Face shields, gloves, 

 etc……Use it. 

 Storage must be treated with the same care as at your home lab. ESPO will 

 have arranged hazardous storage. 

 

 PERSONAL PROTECTION GEAR 

 Closed-toe shoes are always required when working in an aircraft hangar. 

 No sandals or bare feet ever……….even in the tropics! (OSHA?) 

 There are usually earplugs available to those participants working around 

 the aircraft. If there aren’t, get your own and use them. It doesn’t 

 take long for engine noise to ruin your hearing. 

 You should have safety glasses available when your work requires them 

 but it is also a good idea to have them whenever you are around 

 aircraft. Not only is there prop-wash and engine blast from our 

 own aircraft but there are always others moving around the area. In 

 addition, airfields are windy places with lots of dust, dirt and 

 fumes blowing into and through the hangar. 

 

 POWER/NETWORK 

 If there are problems here, contact the ESPO.  EMERGENCY CALLS 

 Find out how to call for emergency help……..it will probably be in your 

 orientation package. 

 SMOKING 

 No smoking is allowed in any aircraft hangar, EVER. There are usually 

 designated areas set up for smoking somewhere outside the hangar away 

 from the aircraft ramp. Don’t assume you are in a smoking allowed area. 

 PHOTOS 

 Before you take any photos inside or outside an aircraft hangar (digital or 

 otherwise), find out if they are permitted. This is imperative on a military 

 base in this day and age but often required even at commercial facilities. 

 Some facilities will not allow cameras at all. The ESPO will have made an 

 agreement with the host facility regarding cameras and taking pictures. 

RAMP/FLIGHTLINE 

 ACCESS 

 Access to the ramp, the area outside the hangar doors, and the flight-line is 

 strictly controlled at any airfield, commercial, private or military. The 

 ESPO will have made an agreement with the host field regarding access to 

 the ramp and flight-line. Find out what it is and stick to it. 

 In general, no one is allowed on the ramp or beyond unless they have the 

 permission of a Crew Chief or ESPO. A special badge may be required. 

 VEHICLES 

 Mission participants are not allowed to drive powered vehicles of any kind 

 Onto the ramp without permission from the ESPO. 

 “FOD” 

 Yep, again! If you see something, pick it up! 

 

 PHOTOS 

 Yep, again! Before you take any photos inside or outside an aircraft 

 hangar (digital or otherwise), find out if they are permitted. This is 

 imperative on a military base in this day and age but often required even at 

 commercial facilities. Some facilities will not allow cameras at all. The 

 ESPO will have made an agreement with the host facility regarding 

 cameras and taking pictures. 

 SMOKING 

 Smoking is never allowed on a ramp, in an aircraft, or on the flight-line. LAB 

 SPACE 

 The spaces assigned for “lab space” are almost always SHARED. 

 The ESPO arranges the space assignments, power, phones, network, tables 

 and chairs. If there are problems, contact ESPO. 

 

 EQUIPMENT 

 Keep Equipment from stacking up in front of exits and entryways. 

 Always post hazard signs appropriate for associated equipment hazards 

 

 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS 

 Have to be documented, contained and handled just as in your home lab. . 

 If you have dangerous chemicals or gases make sure you understand the 

 hazards, post signs and let your neighbors know the dangers. 

 FOOD 

 Aircraft hangars by their locations and openness are always plagued with 

 birds, bugs and animals. If you have food in the lab and don’t keep it in a 

 refrigerator, you and all the others in your space will probably soon have 

 bugs and mice and maybe worse. Often we have the use of refrigerators in 

 the hangar but if not, you might lock it in a cooler. And please clean it up 

 every day. 

 

BASE/FACILITY 

 

 ACCESS 

 If we are working at a military base there will be very strict entry 

 procedures, at the main gate and possibly the hangar. You will be told 

 about these procedures before the mission begins and will probably have 

 to furnish personal information in order to be allowed entry. You may be 

 issued a special badge to allow you access to the base and/or certain 

 buildings. 

 Even at commercial and private airports, entry procedures are much more 

 stringent that in the past. They must be followed or you will be denied 

 access. 

 

 FACILITIES 

 There may be facilities on the base or airport that we are given permission 

 to use. Please follow any rules for their use that the host sets out for us. 

 

 MILITARY HOUSING  If we are using a military base and are allowed military housing, there are 

 very strict regulations that must be followed or you will be asked to leave.