Aircraft Taxiing and How It Is Safely Done
When an aircraft is preparing to take off or has just landed at an airport, it is important that they are able to safely move across the runway as necessary while accommodating any nearby aircraft that also need to use such spaces. When an aircraft traverses a ground service, it is known as taxiing. While the pilot plays a pivotal role in controlling the aircraft on the ground, they often rely on the direction provided by a taxi signalman to safely move. In this blog, we will discuss the taxiing of an aircraft, allowing you to better understand how pilots and signalmen work together to safely conduct operations.
Across the globe, a significant percentage of ground accidents occur as a result of improper taxiing. With the design of some aircraft models, pilots may have their vision obstructed, leading to an inability to see objects or obstructions that are close to the wheels or under the wings. Furthermore, most aircraft will lack any way for the pilot to see what is behind them. As a result, it is very useful to have a taxi signalman for directions.
When a taxi signalman is to assist an aircraft pilot, the standard position to undertake is a placement slightly ahead of an in line with the left wingtip of the aircraft. If standing correctly, the aircraft nose should be to the left of the signalman. As the aircraft moves forward, the signalman will maintain a position far enough ahead where they are always ahead of the wingtip and within the pilot’s view. Due to the potential hazards posed by aircraft and improper taxiing, it is often highly recommended that pilots and signalmen conduct tests to see if the pilot can see and recognize all signals clearly. Generally, as long as the signalman can see the eyes of the pilot, the pilot should be able to see the signalman.
As an aircraft takes off, lands, and generally traverses the runway, there are a variety of signals that the signalman may use, ranging from telling the pilot to slow down to saying when to cut the engines. To review standardized signals, one may refer to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Depending on the setting and industry, there may be additional signals that are standardized, such as those used by the Armed Forces. As aircraft such as helicopters exhibit different part types, systems, and piloting styles, they have their own set of signals as well.
Just as the pilot must train for operating an aircraft to uphold safety, so too does the signalman to ensure that they know all signals needed to direct a pilot. The way in which signals are conveyed must be clear as well, as a pilot cannot afford to mix one signal up with another. To do this, the signalman will often maintain well separated hands where signals are overexaggerated to avoid any confusion. If the taxiing process is being conducted in low-light conditions, the signalman may utilize illuminated wands attached to flashlights.
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