NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) from time to time shares contemporary experiences to add value to the growth of aviation wisdom, lessons learned, and to spur a freer flow of reported incidents. ASRS receives, processes, and analyzes these voluntarily submitted reports from pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, maintenance personnel, dispatchers, ground personnel, and others regarding actual or potential hazards to safe aviation operations.

We acknowledge that the element of surprise, or the unexpected, can upend even the best flight plan. But, sometimes, what is perceived as an anomaly pales in comparison to a subsequent occurrence. This was the case when an Air Taxi Captain went the second mile to clear his wingtips while taxiing for takeoff. Just as he thought any threat was mitigated, boom! Let’s listen in to his account:

“Taxiing out for the first flight out of ZZZ, weed whacking was taking place on the south side of the taxiway. Watching to make sure my wing cleared two men mowing [around] a taxi light, I looked forward to continue the taxi. An instant later I heard a ‘thump.’ I then pulled off the taxiway onto the inner ramp area and shut down, assuming I’d hit one of the dogs that run around the airport grounds on a regular basis. I was shocked to find a man, face down, on the side of the taxiway. His coworkers surrounded him and helped him to his feet. He was standing erect and steady. He knew his name and the date. Apparently [he was] not injured badly. I attended to my two revenue passengers and returned the aircraft to the main ramp. I secured the aircraft and called [the Operations Center]. An ambulance was summoned for the injured worker. Our ramp agent was a non-revenue passenger on the flight and took pictures of the scene. He stated that none of the workers was wearing a high visibility vest, which I also observed. They seldom have in the past.

“This has been a recurring problem at ZZZ since I first came here. The operation is never [published in the] NOTAMs [for] an uncontrolled airfield. The pilots just have to see and avoid people and animals at all times. I don’t think the person that collided with my wingtip was one of the men I was watching. I think he must have been stooped down in the grass. The only option to [improve the] safety of the situation would be to stop completely until, hopefully, the workers moved well clear of the taxiway. This is one of…many operational deficiencies that we, the pilots, have to deal with at ZZZ on a daily basis.”

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