Safe Taxi Operations

Think about the two scenarios:
1.  It is a clear sunny day at your airport. You are taxiing out for a VFR flight to your favorite back country airstrip.
2.  It is a cloudy, heavy overcast day with visibility near minimums. You are taxiing out for an IFR flight to your corporate headquarters 250 miles away.
Now thinking about these two scenarios, what is the common operational element in each?

If you said taxi operations, then yes, you are correct. But let’s think about both of these taxi operations for a minute. One is conducted on a beautiful clear day while the other is in very marginal conditions with the visibility near minimums.

Apart from basic operation of your aircraft, would you treat either taxi operation differently than the other even though one is in VFR conditions and the other in IFR conditions?

The FAA Safety Team hopes that you would not. The FAASTeam wants to promote that taxi operations, either in VFR or IFR conditions are exactly the same.  Your eyes and attention need to be on the task at hand. Taxiing your aircraft should be considered a ‘VFR’ operation regardless of the weather conditions. After all, you wouldn’t drive your car in heavy fog while reading the newspaper would you? The same goes for taxi operations. You need to be alert to the taxiway/runway markings on the pavement; you need to pay attention to all the airport signage; you should not be reading the preflight checklist or programming your fancy electronic flight instruments, and you should not be talking on your cell phone.

Distractions in the cockpit during taxi lead to a large number of runway incursions. These runway incursions can be classified as a D or C where there is little chance of an incident; whereas a B or A runway incursion classification could lead to a catastrophic event. Remember, getting an A or a B in this class is not a good thing!

You are a pilot. You worked hard for your certificate. Up your game a little. Be a “professional” in your actions. Always use the sterile cockpit routine; preprogram all flight equipment prior to taxi; keep all chatter to a minimum or better yet none at all. Keep your eyes open and outside the cockpit and always follow any ATC instructions to the letter. Always write down taxi clearances and if you ever find yourself unsure of what to do or where you are, call ATC for clarification or progressive taxi instructions.

Be safe, be a “Professional” and — safe flying.