Towbarless pushback operation of a passenger aircraft is generally done with at least 2 people. The first person (walk-out assistant) communicates with the cockpit crew members and observes the mobility on the ground, while the second person steers the pushback tractor and maneuvers the aircraft, observing the mobility on the ground. According to local airport rules or company procedures, wing tip observers may also be deployed near the wing tips.

In order to save manpower and increase productivity, it is seen that some handling companies/airlines have started to perform push-back operations with a single operator (single man push-back).

Is it safe for a single person to perform the towbarless pushback operation, both maneuvering the aircraft on the ground and communicating with the cockpit crew members and what can be the disadvantages of doing so? What kind of safety systems are these towbarless tractors equipped with?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you're out in the open one-man towing's no big deal. The walkers are for when you need to ensure clearance at wing tips or overhead in confined areas. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ related: Why does the headset man not get on the tractor? $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


If the crew are inside the aircraft and sitting in the cockpit, and there are no obstacles near the aircraft, there's no problem with one person doing the push back. In the military I was certified to tow medium transport helicopters and I could initiate the tow by myself when coming from the line to the hangar if someone was in the cockpit riding the brakes, but I could not enter the hangar without walkers. Likewise, if I was going in the other direction, once I was out in the open I could tow the bird back to the line by myself.


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