Taxi Ground Procedures

Once the engine is started the throttle should be set to 1000 RPM which is the general power setting while on the ground. This is indicated at the top of the information display on the RPM gauge known as the “Tachometer” which has an analog as well as digital reading.

If you haven’t adjusted your seat prior to starting up the engine or if you forgot as part of the pre-flight checklist, now is the time to adjust the seat to ensure you have visibility over the engine cowling. If you didn’t read the “Preparing for Flight” information and didn’t remember to bring your seat cushion, you should probable read through the IM SAFE acronyms to ensure you are fit to fly as having a set cushion if needed and adjusting the seat should have already been taken care of before the engine has started. Regardless, let’s move on.

For the Cessna 162 Skycatcher, the brakes control the steering so you will use the brakes on the rudder pedals. On the Cessna 172 Skyhawk it is the rudder pedals since the rudder is what will make the airplane turn while on the ground. Regardless, on both of these aircraft, steering is done via the foot pedals.

Taxiing

The correct foot position for taxiing is for your heels to rest on the floorboard while the balls of your feet are positioned on the rudder pedals. In order to slow down and/or turn, raise your toes up to press on the brakes while your right hand remains on the throttle.

Now that we know how to taxi, there is more to do before actually taxiing. For starters, you should study the airport diagram so that you know where the heck you are and where you are supposed to go. There are taxi designations as well as “hotspots” where it is easy to be confused and to potentially enter a runway unintentionally.

You may have to cross runways while en-route to your takeoff runway and there may be parallel runways, so these are some of the things you should note before taking off.

You cannot begin to taxi until you have received your taxi clearance. When receiving the taxi clearance, it is important to record the instructions so that they are not only easy to read but easy to read back accurately. Additionally, you will have a visible reference that is quickly accessible. Always make sure to confirm your route on the airport diagram to clear up any confusion or doubt before beginning to move the aircraft.

Beginning to Taxi

Once everything is ready to taxi, you want to take a look outside including both to the left and right to ensure there are no obstructions or obstacles and that the wings & tips are clear to proceed.

The next step is a brake check where you begin by pushing the throttle in just enough to start moving forward then immediately reduce the throttle to the idle position and apply both brakes together in a gentle and smooth fashion.

This is the brake check and as long as the aircraft slows strain ahead, you know the brakes are working properly. If the aircraft doesn’t slow down, the brakes are not working properly. If the aircraft turns to the left or right, then this is an indication that one or more of the brakes may not be working properly.

For training where there is an instructor and student, the instructor will check their brakes as well provided there is a “positive exchange of flight controls”

Positive Exchange of Flight Controls

The concept of “positive exchange of flight controls” is to ensure that there is a clear understanding between the instructor and trainee as to who is flying the aircraft. This is not only for safety but also to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion as to which party is responsible for the aircraft.

There is a simple three step process for appropriately exchanging flight controls. When the student has the flight controls and wishes to exchange to the instructor,

    1. the student will say:

“You have the aircraft”

2. In order to confirm the exchange of flight controls, the instructor will respond with confirmation by saying:

“I have the aircraft”

3. At this point, the student will confirm by saying once again:

“You have the aircraft”

The three step process allows for a quick and easy transfer process for transferring control of the aircraft.

Once the instructor has conducted their brake check, the instructor will then pass controls back to the student using the same process of positive exchange of flight controls and the process will continue.

Actually Taxiing Out

Once the brake check is done by both the student and the instructor and the control of the aircraft has been given back to the student, the next step is to start the process of taxiing towards the appropriate runway.

Pushing the throttle forward will increase the power of the engine and you want to push the throttle just enough to get the aircraft moving. The goal is to set the forward movement to that which is at a slow jogging pace.

It is important to note that the throttle should be adjusted to control the speed as opposed to the brakes and as speed increases, the throttle should be pulled back if needed to reduce the power.

At all times, it is very important to remember to look outside and scan the area for any obstructions making sure that the wing tips are clear of any obstacles especially around other people, aircraft or in congested areas.

As part of the taxiing process you may need to cross various intersections. It is important especially in these areas to not only visually check the intersection but to verbally confirm that these intersections are actually clear. To do this confirm verbally “clear left”, “clear right” and “clear center” as this will force you brain to actually recite what you are doing and draw more attention and focus to the task at hand.

While taxiing, the proper foot position is with heels on the floor when not applying the brakes as this will prevent you from riding the brakes. You also want to avoid taxiing with the power on and brakes on at the same time as riding the brakes will wear out the brake sooner.

Simply put, move your toes  to apply the brakes only when needed.  To slow down, first reduce throttle and if needed, apply the brakes as necessary.

Keeping it Centered

Just as you would drive a car within the appropriate lane, the yellow taxi line serves as a way to help keep an aircraft clear of obstacles and the best practice is to keep the center line between your two feet. Although you may be riding right on the centerline, it is still important to constantly scan outside for any visible obstructions all the way beyond the wing tip. It is important to be alert as to what is around you such as cars, people and airplanes as these are all likely to be moving on the ramp at the same time as you are taxiing.

*Note: Using too much rudder or brake pedal can cause you to swerve back and forth across the taxiway, so caution should be used with the rudder pedals.

Turning during Taxiing

When you are approaching a turn, there are a few things to keep in mind. Just as in a car, your speed should be reduced coming into a turn which should be accomplished in the aircraft first by pulling back on the throttle to reduce the power. Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes a greater amount of power to start moving an aircraft once it has stopped as opposed to keeping an aircraft in morion once it has started, so if possible it is best to keep the aircraft in motion as a safe speed while making turns. Staying in motion will not only save time, but also save fuel and the expenses associated with fuel burn. Who knows, that little extra bit of fuel could come in handy should something unfortunate happen in flight.

In the Cessna Skyhawk 172, the rudder pedals are connected to the nose wheel so in order to turn, simple push the rudder pedal down on the side that you rant to turn. For example, if you want to turn right, push the right rudder pedal and to turn left, push the left pedal.

For instances when you need to tighten a turn, it may be necessary to lightly apply brake pedal to that side. When you have made the turn and want to straighten the airplane out, you will use the opposite rudder to straighten the airplane keeping in mind that the brake may be used if necessary to get the aircraft straightened.

On the Cessna Skycatcher 162, the controls are a little different. Due to the catering nose wheel, for turning, you will need to press lightly on the top of the rudder pedal to engage the brake on the side that you want to turn. For instance where you need to tighten the turn, additional brake pressure may be necessary. Just as described above for the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, you will use the opposite brake to straighten the airplane.

Sharp Turns

Sometimes sharp turns are necessary such as when you want to do some doughnuts on the tarmac. Kidding. Kidding. Don’t do doughnuts on the tarmac in an airplane.

Sharp turns are similar to the above with a few exceptions. In order to make sharp turns you will need to use more power while applying more brake than usual while pressing the rudder in the direction you want to turn. You want to be careful not to lock up the brakes and make sure to use a power setting high enough to keep the aircraft moving. Also keep in mind that with a higher power setting, the propeller will be pushing more airflow so be aware of your surrounding as to not cause any damage due to blowing debris from the propeller blast.

Running Up the Engine

The “Engine Run-up is part of the series of checks that a pilot will do before taking off in the aircraft. Generally, an engine run-up on a Cessna 172 or other single piston aircraft will consist of checking the aircrafts’s magnetos, carburetor heat in addition to other basic engine instrument readings such as the oil pressure, oil temperature and cylinder head temperature. Thanks to Paul Tocknell for this helpful explanation at askacfi.com.

Prior to take off, the engine run up test will be done and when entering the run-up area is it important to be aware of your surroundings especially as to other aircraft. It is important to leave enough room for other airplanes to enter the run-up area and to be courteous to other aircraft.

Here are a few key points regarding the Engine Run-up:

  • If possible you want to point the the aircraft into the wind as this will ensure that as much air as possible is directed over the engine.
  • Straighten the aircraft and nose wheel using the rudder pedals before coming to a stop.
  • Apply the parking brake.
  • Proceed with your “Before Takeoff Checklist”.
  • When leaving the run-up area make sure to visually look for any obstacles, aircraft or potential hazard to avoid any type of collision and always make sure to use proper etiquette and wait your turn for takeoff as to not cut off any other aircraft.