Airport Ground Support
Equipment Resources

Preventing Accidents and Collisions Fact Sheet

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Purpose: To provide possible solutions for the prevention of injuries and aircraft/equipment damage while operating baggage tugs and carts.


  • Complete a pre-operational inspection.

Baggage Tug Operation

Potential Hazards:

  • Unattended vehicle
  • Un-commanded movement
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Obstructions
  • Other moving equipment
  • Surface conditions
  • Distraction or loss of situational awareness
  • Driving into aircraft path on the ramp of the Aircraft Movement Area (AMA)

Possible Solutions:                                                                

  • Prior to starting and/or turning off the bag tug, ensure it is in neutral or park (if applicable) and the parking brake is set.
  • If bag tug must be left running and unattended, ensure it is chocked. (Figure 1)
  • A vehicle is considered “unattended” when the operator is 25 ft. or more away, or the vehicle is out of view.
  • When parking or staging a bag tug, ensure it is positioned in a manner that will not cause congestion or obstruction.
  • Baggage or other items should only be transported in/on approved bag tug areas. (Figure 2)
  • Follow all published speed limits.
  • While driving in congested areas, operate at a walking pace.
  • When driving to a non-adjacent gate, the vehicle service road (VSR) should be utilized.
  • While driving, maintain a safe distance (follow the 3 second rule) between your bag tug and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Do not engage in horseplay while driving.
  • While maneuvering, pay special attention to the clearances due to the bag tug’s length and the number of carts being towed.
  • Slow down for wet and/or slippery surfaces.
  • Do not use electronic devices while operating the bag tug.
  • Do not drive under any portion of an aircraft unless authorized.
  • Driver must remain seated and within the confines of the vehicle while in motion.
  • Must remain seated while the vehicle in is motion with seatbelt(s) secured, except while driving in the footprint of aircraft.
  • Riding on any part of a vehicle other than a seat is not permitted. “No seat no ride” rule applies to all vehicles.
  • Always yield to pedestrians and aircraft.
  • Maintain a safe distance from customer walkways during boarding and deplaning.


Baggage Carts

Possible Hazards:

  • Carts becoming un-hitched
  • Carts tipping over
  • Un-commanded movement
  • Malfunction (e.g. flat tire, brake failure, etc.)

Possible Solutions:

  • Inspect the hitch assembly for proper operation and for worn, damaged or missing parts.
  • Be familiar with the different hitch types. (Figures 3 & 4)
  • Check hitch to ensure it is properly secured to bag tug or cart. (Figure 5 & 6)
  • Test the hitch by grasping the tow bar and sharply pulling upward to verify the hitch will not open.
  • To prevent carts from tipping, slow down to appropriate speeds when driving around corners and avoid sharp or abrupt turns.
  • When leaving carts unattended, apply parking brake by lifting cart tongue; never leave it in the down position. (Figures 7 & 8) 
  • Check that all tires, wheels, and brakes are in good condition.     



Additional Resources

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

  • 14 CFR 139, Certification and Operations: Land Airports Servicing Certain Air Carriers. This is part of the electronic code of federal regulations. Specific areas of interest for the airline industry may include:
    • 139.101, Certification requirements: General
    • 139.203, Contents of airport certification manual
    • 139.205, Amendment of contents of airport certification manual
    • 139.329, Ground vehicles

Part 139 Certification. Requires the FAA to issue airport operating certificates to airports that serve scheduled and unscheduled air carrier aircraft with more than 30 seats or that the FAA Administrator requires to have a certificate.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace and workers have rights. OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers.  OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. For more information, contact your regional or area OSHA office, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), or visit

Through the OSHA and Airline Group Safety Panel Alliance, the Airline Ground Safety Panel developed this Fact Sheet for informational purposes only. It does not necessarily reflect the official views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor. 01/2013.