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January 2023

B77 Update :: January 2023

A review of the most impactful changes to the passenger ropeway standard.

Written by Mike Lane | 0 comment


Since the latest changes to the ANSI B77.1 Standard for Passenger Ropeways were approved in May 2022, it’s time for resorts (and others) to prepare to meet them. It is recommended that users of the standard, as well as authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ), start to utilize the latest version by May 2023.

The Accredited Standards Committee B77 (ASC B77) exists to create a standard for passenger ropeways (e.g., chairlifts, gondolas, trams, etc.). The group consists of approximately 60 consensus body members and 40 observer members from seven unique interest categories. Most of these members work in or have experience in the ski industry. The group revises the ANSI B77.1 standard on a five-year cycle to reflect technological advancements, industry practices, and reactions to problems or incidents. 

Revisions to the ANSI B77.1-2017 standard have been the topic of education for the past few years across the country. Here, we’ll discuss the changes, why they were made, and how to best prepare for them. More than 40 proposed changes were fine-tuned and enacted, and have broadly affected the standard. Here, we have pared down the list to those that are most impactful for design, maintenance, and operations. 

The changes are presented in the following format: 

Section X (the section where the change(s) is/are located) Topic -— Italicized text provides a brief description of the change detailed below. 

Comments here may describe why, what, or how the change may affect a ropeway, its design, inspection, or its operation.

The B77.1 standard sections are:

Section 1 – General Requirements

Section 2 – Aerial Tramways 

Section 3 – Detachable Grip Aerial Lifts

Section 4 – Fixed Grip Aerial Lifts

Section 5 – Surface Lifts

Section 6 – Tows

Section 7 – Conveyors

Section 8 – Normative References

Annexes A-J


Section 1
1.4 Definitions — Updated text for work carrier, added definitions for “hot work,” “machine compartment,” “systems, emergency and standby power,” and “unseated passenger.”

At times, new definitions are required to provide clarity for the reader and/or the ASC B77 intended definition if not found in a common dictionary. In this case, four new terms have been added, three of which are related to personnel or passenger safety, the fourth dealing with technological advancements. Each of the new terms could have some impacts at your area and are further detailed in the various sections that follow. Everyone referencing this standard should familiarize themselves with the new definitions. 

Section 4 Rollback Device — Language revision for rollback detection and action, broken out into backstop device and friction brakes.

The change to rollback device was essential, as many new lifts are designed without a backstop device but with multiple rollback detections and a separate friction type brake(s). The new language parallels section 3 for detachable and friction brakes. Lift maintenance and/or personnel responsible for lift maintenance should understand the latest verbiage with respect to newer style lifts, and subsequent testing of the devices.     cont. » Carrier Inspection Plan — Language revision, reorganization for clarity, and revision to insert clip requirements. 

This change affects all those areas operating systems with insert clips; Riblet clips are the most common. The revised standard has new requirements aligned with the two-year relocation of clip requirements. Maintenance and inspection personnel should update their procedures to include the new minimum sampling size and frequency requirements.


SECTION 7 Machinery Not Housed in a Machine Room — 

Language addition for the space below a conveyor and “machine compartments.” 

7.2.8 Manual Control Devices — Language revision “in close proximity to” machine compartments. 

7.3.1 General and Personnel Safety — Language revision, safety training and manufacturer’s instruction. 

All three of the above changes to conveyors are related to personnel safety and include a new term and corresponding definition. The term “machine compartment” was developed and defined as a space that is not intended to be an occupied space with regard to OSHA. 

It is very important to update safety procedures and training in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions and area policies. Risk managers, lift maintenance, lift operations, mountain operations, and any staff who work with conveyor lifts or in close proximity to this equipment must understand the changes and be provided safety training. 

The second change requires a manual control device in close proximity to a machine compartment, e.g., a stop button. The first two requirements are for all new installations. Safety training is required. Existing machines could be enhanced with stop devices in close proximity to machine compartments.


Additional Changes Affecting Multiple Sections


X.2.13 Ropeway Data Recording — New language added for data recording of events, including speed and torque. 

The use of technology within ropeway systems has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, including the ability to capture and store data. The data are extremely valuable in terms of troubleshooting nagging faults (stoppages) or finding how a certain event, such as a power surge, may have affected the ropeway. The new requirement may also provide details to personnel on performance of the drive system, and possibly changes to that performance. 

This is a very important change. However, it has little impact on staff. Lift maintenance and/or personnel responsible for lift maintenance should be aware that new aerial lifts will have this feature.


SECTIONS 2, 3, & 4
X. Power Unit Procedures and Periodic OperationLanguage addition for power unit procedures requirements. 

Power unit procedures, whether described as an auxiliary, evacuation, or stand-by system, all have unique and sometimes detailed aspects on how to operate correctly. By May 2023, you must create comprehensive documentation outlining connection and startup procedures for your drive units. Once this is complete, train and practice to the procedure, making sure small details haven’t been left out.

Make the procedures readily available. For example: laminate and post them at the unit, or create a step-by-step video that can be accessed with a mobile device and used in the field.

X.3.4.4 Dynamic Testing — Language revision from 100 percent to 110 percent design live load. 

Dynamic testing of lifts has changed slightly. This seven-year requirement for all aerial ropeway systems is changing from a 100 percent load (170 lb/passenger) to the acceptance testing value of 110 percent (187 lb/passenger). The dynamic testing procedures need to be updated for each aerial lift.


Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7

X.3.5.1 Operational and Preoperational Inspection Logs — 

Language revision and addition to clarify operational and preoperational inspection log requirements.

Documentation is and always will be a critical aspect of your daily routine. The changes coming in May 2023 are no exception, and are intended to provide more clarity and better direction. “Operational and Preoperational” logs have been combined into one heading. It can be a single record for each, or combined into one that details everything from operations to all of your preoperational checks, etc. Read the details and start developing your next generation of logs.


Sections 3 & 4

X. & X. Loading and Unloading Areas — For chairlifts, the carrier height at the load and unload platforms has been changed to a maximum of 22 inches, and a minimum of 16 inches. An exception for lifts serving beginner terrain has also been added.

Chair heights have been in discussion within ASC B77 for the past 4-5 years. Lifts are utilized by a diverse population, including people with sit-skis, mono-skis, and bi-skis (SMBs). The new limits of a maximum of 22 inches and a minimum of 16 inches better accommodate SMB riders that are challenged by tall carrier heights at the loading, and excessively low carrier heights at the unload. These changes should also be included on carrier height signage, which must be displayed.


X. Work Carrier Design — Language revisions and additions for design of work carriers. 

When we discuss personnel safety, work carriers have been an important topic and the industry has been working to adapt to 2017 OSHA regulations for work baskets. All work carriers will be required to have fall attachment points, capacity ratings, conforming kick plates and railings, line clearance verifications, and adjusted grip slip values. In many cases, these changes will require an analysis of existing carriers by a qualified engineer as well as certain aspects of the lift(s) that the work carrier is used on. If your work carrier is old and you’re not sure who built it, plan on addressing this change and possibly replacing your work carrier. 

X. Work Carrier — Language addition and changes for work carrier procedures. Comprehensive revisions to procedures for use, including loading instructions, traveling positions, working positions, speed, etc.

In addition to work carrier design, the procedures required for using a work carrier have also been revised significantly. Comprehensive written procedures are required on installing the carrier, removing the carrier, traveling positions, working positions, cargo loading instructions, and grip slip testing. The procedures, including some of these details, get complex, and certain aspects may require professional help. Lift maintenance staff and/or personnel responsible for lift maintenance need to get started; get your carriers analyzed by an engineer, and develop comprehensive work carrier procedures.

X3.3.1 General and Personnel Safety — Language revision for lifts used for foot passengers. Restraint devices must be designed by an aerial lift manufacturer or qualified engineer. 

This is an important change for those utilizing ski lifts for summer/fall activities. By May 2023, all aerial lifts used for foot passengers must have a “restraint device” that is designed by the lift manufacturer or qualified engineer. If you have been using something other than that, have your chairs analyzed by the manufacturer or an engineer and set a new plan in motion.


X.3.2.1 Personnel and SupervisionLanguage addition related to unseated passengers. New requirements for a plan/procedure, including training of personnel to respond to an unseated passenger. 

All users of the standard should understand the updated language, new requirements, training, and potential changes needed to act on an unseated passenger.


X. Loading and Unloading PlatformsLanguage addition to include reference back to design requirements of carrier load and unload design heights (max and min). 

All users of the standard should understand the new operational requirements; the maximum and minimum chair heights apply to all new and existing chairlifts. Load and unload heights must meet the B77.1-2022 standard in May 2023. 

Lift maintenance and mountain operations teams should have a current copy of the ANSI B77.1-2022 Standard for Passenger Ropeways, review the changes, and start planning for implementation in May 2023. To get your copy, visit