ASI Safety Tip: Marshalling Signals

November 5, 2019 posted by


Whether you’re a seasoned aviator or you’re
just getting started in flying, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of these folks
on the ramp. He is… the aircraft marshaller! Maybe you’ve taxied into an FBO with a marshaller
directing your aircraft, or maybe you’ve only seen one while flying on a commercial
airliner. Either way, if you’re planning on flying
to an unfamiliar airport or if you’re coming to one of AOPA’s fly-ins in the future,
knowing the correct visual communication signals is key to your safety, and the safety of others. There are more than a dozen marshalling signals,
and communication between the marshaller and the pilot can sometimes get confusing. To make things more confusing, some airports
may use slightly different variations on the same signals. Whatever the variation in signals may be,
you will either see the marshaller use wands or paddles, or just their arms and hands for
directing. Be flexible and use your pilot senses to help
you understand their directions. Let’s go over some common signals that you should
know. If you’re taxiing into an FBO, one of the
first marshalling directions you might see is the “place yourself facing me” signal,
with both hands or wands pointing toward the sky. You’re likely to see it from a distance
as you approach the parking area, so you’ll want to line up your aircraft to face the
front of the marshaller directly, however their body is turned. As you approach the marshaller, you’re likely
to see the “proceed straight ahead” signal. One version involves the marshaller’s
arms repeatedly moving up and back from the elbow in a kind of beckoning motion. A similar variation might involve the arms
extended, bent at the elbows, moving the hands up and down from shoulder level to head level. This is just one example of how signals could
be slightly different. The “slow down” signal is pretty easy,
and is used for just that – to slow you down, Speedy. The “turn left” and “turn right” signals
are two that, believe it or not, seem to create the most confusion. All you have to do here is follow the pointed
hand. The other arm will be raised and waving in
and out. Don’t get caught up in the waving – just
follow the point. When it’s time to stop your aircraft, “X”
marks the spot. The marshaller will lift both hands and make
an “X” above his or her head indicating where you should “stop”. Take note of the speed at which the marshaller
is raising their hands, which is intended to slow you down as you get closer to the
stopping point. You should start preparing for a stop just
as their hands lift and be stopped by the time their hands are crossed. Buried treasure not included. Don’t mistake the “cut the engine” signal
as a threat to your life. The marshaller will move one of their hands
or wands horizontally across their neck starting at the opposite shoulder, signaling for you
to shut down the engine. You might see the marshaller give you the
signal for “inserting chocks” right after this one. This signal could be down at the waist, or
up above the head. All these signals got you feeling confused? Well that’s ok—there’s a signal for that,
too. If you’re not sure what the marshaller is
saying, follow these steps. First, check that you are in a safe
environment. Then, give the marshaller the universal confusion
signal by shrugging your shoulders and putting your hands up. This will convey to the marshaller that you
are unsure of their instructions. If after doing that you still have no idea
what they are signaling, shut the engine down and have the marshaller approach your aircraft
to make sure you are following their exact directions. These are certainly not all the marshalling
instructions you’ll see out there, but knowing the basics will help you navigate the ramp
a lot more safely. And remember to take a few minutes to review the hand
signals listed in the Airport Operations section of the AIM. Be professional, be safe, and show up to the
next FBO or fly-in with a lot more confidence!

50 Comments

50 Replies to “ASI Safety Tip: Marshalling Signals”

  1. JasonAir says:

    Thanks for posting this. So many are unfamiliar.

  2. Gear Whine says:

    Ha! Long before YouTube, I could have used this. 1st cross-country solo, new airport…got my ass chewed a little.

  3. 7.ZeroProductions says:

    If someone gives you the groin level Inserting Chocks signal when you aren’t in an airplane, proceed immediately to your emergency checklist

  4. Samuel Golden says:

    Helpful and genuinely funny, thanks. It helps that the signals do make sense, so even if you forget just think about it for a second.

  5. 1rem1Art says:

    and how do marshallers control helicopters?

  6. Rogelio Hernandez says:

    Lol. I always thought the man was telling me I screwed up and he was going to murder me as soon as I got off. Or that I had just ran over one of his pals and he was going to kill me.

    Good to know he just wanted me to shut down the engine.

  7. The Iron Armenian aka G.I. Haigs says:

    Another good informative but also funny video 😀

  8. bob4jjjj says:

    lol very funny with a serious side. The marshal running after telling the pilot to slow down, very funny lol.

  9. bob4jjjj says:

    What about helicopter signals?

  10. Nikolai says:

    So international sign for lack of understanding is shrugging shoulders. Hm . What about pointing with the index finger towards your head and spinning your hand ?

  11. Smitty Smithsonite says:

    I love laughing while learning! 😂 Great video. 👍👍

  12. MillionFoul says:

    Not even jet pilots understand every signal a marshaller has in their bag, so this is a very relevant video. They really like to slam the brakes the instant you start signalling the beginning of a stop command, and commonly either end up ten feet short of where you want them, or more annoyingly, about twenty feet too far.

    Also, pro-tip for you thousand hour pilots who don't understand how to park a plane: Your aircraft pivots over the main gear, not the cockpit. That means in order to put the aircraft where I'm telling you to, you need to go past me before beginning your turn. I'm looking at you, NetJets.

  13. Dee Anna says:

    This was funny and informative.

  14. Mark Abarca says:

    Best video yet. More of these style videos please

  15. nitehawk86 says:

    It's kind of nice to have an ASI video with a lighter tone to it. 🙂
    Keep up the good work.

  16. Janne Peltonen says:

    Thanks for the brush-up, I rarely fly anywhere that has marshallers, so these things tend to rust 🙂

  17. NetAndyCz says:

    1:17 I have not mastered this taxi sideways technique but it would be very handy:)

  18. Elyes Zribi says:

    wonderful video love it!! we need more of these!

  19. Ivan Kondaurov says:

    Nice one. Good to know info.

  20. Gwen Walcott says:

    😀

  21. Martin Pauly says:

    Good video, and a useful reminder of what all these signals mean to us pilots.
    And top of that, this one was funny! Well done, ASF.
    – Martin

  22. Douglas says:

    Superb. The levity really made it outstanding

  23. Quinn B says:

    Worked transient alert on the airfield in Bagram. We launched planes out as well as brought them in. Launching a single engine turbo out, I stood off to the side so as not to get violently run down, but the pilot interpreted my move forward signal, as a come straight at me signal. In the end I dodged off to the side and just gave him the so long signal.

  24. Владимир К says:

    Thanks, very useful!

  25. John Opalko says:

    Great tips, humor, and a little bit of Rossini. What's not to like?

  26. Greg Dannels says:

    Great job with the humor mixed in with all those who participated! :-))

  27. Nicholas L says:

    Mag-neato! 🤓

  28. Andy Plater says:

    Beautifully done video guys. Cheers

  29. gomphrena -beautiful flower- says:

    How could 9 people give this a thumbs-down??. They must be the pilots just now realizing what those pesky people in Day-Glo vests waving around Day-Glo pool floaties have been doing all this time!

  30. Joe Heitz says:

    made me laugh

  31. Matt Basford says:

    Cute video. What I get tired of though is people telling me to be professional. I am not a professional pilot. I don't fly for a living but for enjoyment and travel.

  32. docrhw Weil says:

    Very useful, thanks. I would have added "Emergency Stop" (rapid crossing of arms above the head), but these can all be seen on the "Air marshalling" page on Wikipedia. (It also ha the helicopter hand signals, which viewed in sequence look for all the world like break dancing.) It is interesting that the signals are not quite standardized. A late 1940s glider meet with each club having its own system led to such confusion that the Soaring Society pushed for the same signals everywhere (ground and air, in fact). Perhaps the AOPA and FAA could make sure there aren't any potentially dangerous variations occurring.

  33. Mr Reymundo says:

    1:14 – best part of vid!

  34. YouTube Addict-18 says:

    Larry is guiding a large jumbo jet in to gating area. "Hey Larry where is the forklift?" Larry responded. "Forklift it's over there by the baggage loader." While waving his guiding wonds for the plane to turn into an airport window. Airplane movie. https://youtu.be/i5qpZZBlrq8

  35. Rohan Bomb says:

    I LOVED this video. I couldn't stop laughing @ 1:44

  36. Golf Pilot says:

    I thought those guys were ATC

  37. Jeremy Truesdell says:

    Hint: when we tell you to go straight, unless there is an IMMEDIATE need to turn, go straight. If we tell you to turn, turn. When we tell you to stop, stop. We see more than you do, better than you do. I’ve had several close calls because the pilot thinks they know everything, and do their own thing.

  38. German Aviation says:

    You forgot the hand signal ✊ when you stop to give the „OK“ that you’re done. Don’t know if GA aircraft use it though.

  39. GZA036 says:

    00:57 The Cessna 172 purred away a real horrorshow – a nice, warm vibraty feeling all through your guttiwuts. And soon it was trees and dark, my brothers, with real country dark….

  40. Liam S. says:

    wave those wands high ATC!!

  41. Homefront says:

    Who is this man Marshall?

  42. Kami Pupe Bnk48 says:

    1:46 55+

  43. aamir siddiqui says:

    what is the name of this sticks in the hands

  44. Bingus258 says:

    Jesus god, it shouldn't be that hard for you pilots to understand what we are trying to get you to do. Also, if I'm marshalling you, you go where I tell you to, it's not park where you want!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. Diego García says:

    0:04 or you want to help the people at the car parking.

  46. Adam Rickman says:

    These video are so great and especially the marshal getting chased by the plane. It’s pretty easy to do this in post. Notice the shot is locked on a tripod and not moving. You have the marshal run by and once he is out of the way you can have the plane go by (or viceversa). Then in post you just layer them over and mask them close together and you won’t have to worry about the background. One of my favorite effects because it is so simple but works well.
    These videos are extremely well made and put together. The animation is great and the acting too. It’s cheesy but in a good way. They embrace the cheesiness of it and make it fun rather than awkward.

  47. Gary Cooperson says:

    Really appreciated having this be a bit fun!

  48. Jeffrey Jensen says:

    With communication like that, those two must be married…

  49. You choose this says:

    2:31
    what about a threat to my independence as a strong woman who dont need no man?

  50. Manouchehr DADASHI says:

    Thank you.

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