The aircraft is steered on the ground by use of the rudder pedals. It is
almost certain that your first aircraft will be fitted with a steering
nose wheel. The linkage between the nose wheel and the rudder pedals
disconnects automatically on take-off. Application of left rudder pedal
will cause the aircraft to turn left. Some folks find this confusing at
first because they feel that it is the other way round to a bicycle
handlebar; worse still for those who have done much sand or ice yachting
as their steering is by foot pedals and opposite direction compared to aircraft.
The aircraft is braked by application of the toe brakes. These are at the
top of each pedal.
wheels only are braked, and most aircraft are fitted with differential
braking. This means that the left or right brake can be applied
individually, which enables the aircraft to turn about on its axis. This
is a useful for tight manoeuvring. In aircraft with a castoring nose
wheel, not connected to steering), the use of differential brakes is the
only way that the aircraft can be steered on the runway below the speed of
Too heavy an application
of brakes (unless really necessary) will result in rapid pad wear and flat
sports on the tyres.
Most modern aircraft are
fitted with toe brakes. The top section of the rudder pedals are
connected to the brake system. Care must be taken to to apply them at high
speed on the runway, as this will result in a violent change of direction.
Some older types have heel brakes. Here the positioning is reversed. Most
pilots find them harder to use. A few aircraft (such as the YAK types)
have small levers on the control stick that actuate the brakes
pneumatically while others may have hand levers (Shaw Liberty)
Some aircraft have an
independent handbrake that will apply the brakes evenly onto both main
wheels (Pipers). Other types, (Cessna, Mooney) require that the toe brakes
are applied and then a knob has to be pulled out to lock the brakes.
In controlled airfields
all aircraft movements must have ATC permission; nevertheless,
ultimate responsibility remains always with the pilot.
To get an aircraft to
begin to roll, initial inertia must be overcome. Resistance will be
greater on grass, This means that a greater amount of engine power is
needed, that must be quickly reduced once rolling. Great care is needed as
student pilots can easily forget the wings which can make contact with
other aircraft or obstructions! The ground clearance between the moving
propeller tips and the ground is not all that great. taxi slowly and avoid
rough ground and potholes. When changing surfaces, say from tarmac to
grass, approach at an angle to reduce any drop.
Avoid long grass as you
will be unable to see the surface underneath and the finish of the
propeller can become abraded........ lawnmowers are much cheaper! Loose
gravel can also cause a great deal of damage to the aircraft.
After moving forward a few
feet always give a dab of the brakes to confirm integrity.
If a steering nose-wheel is fitted, it is impossible to check the
operation of the rudder while the aircraft is stationary. This must be
done once moving.
Whilst taxiing you should
also check for correct operation of the turn co-ordinator, attitude
indicator, direction indicator and compass. You should not taxi with the
fuel boost pump on in order to check for the correct operation of the
mechanical fuel pump fitted to the engine.
priorities (in descending order)
landing and taking off aircraft
aircraft under tow
road vehicles and pedestrians
Taxi with the nose-wheel
on the centre yellow line. Give way to the right, turn to the right if
meeting an opposite direction aircraft and overtake on the left.
Unless you are flying
biplanes with low wing-loadings, wind is usually not a significant factor
during the taxi.
During the refuelling of
an aircraft, all occupants must vacate. The aircraft brakes must be
released so that in the event of fire the aircraft can be moved from
taxiway markings and
signals (these open in new windows)