Can I Get Progressive Taxi Instructions
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 ABEL C. DIAZ
C Company, 3-82 General Support Aviation Battalion
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Airport pavement markings and signs are intended to provide useful information to pilots during takeoff, landing and taxiing. But how effective are these markings and signs when a PI doesn’t understand what the depicted information represents?
We are all guilty of providing our PIs with progressive taxi instructions. Think about it: You tell Joe to, “Turn here,” followed by, “Hold here,” and then, “OK, we are cleared to continue.” This needs to stop. We aren’t teaching these PIs to interpret markings and signs for themselves; we are teaching them to memorize a process without understanding why.
The problem presents itself when a PI is still relying on you to tell them where to go — despite hearing the clearance from ground and/or tower. At the same time, you are on the radio deconflicting something while the PI is trying to talk to you. PIs are not taught in flight school to interpret airport markings and signs. They have been given progressive taxi instructions throughout flight school, progression and their training flights, and they get good at mimicing behavior rather than understanding the process.
So here’s my anecedote. A few weeks ago, I had a 250-plus-hour PI fishtailing all over the airfield. He was slow on the turns and the fuselage was leaning to one side — typical PI stuff. I asked him if he was all right since he had a tendency to overcorrect the aircraft every three to five seconds and ride the brakes. He told me he felt uncomfortable during ground taxing because he could never align the tail wheel on the center of the black inscription on the taxiway. I chuckled and told him to stay situationally aware and focus on not hitting anything.
As the PI proceeded to ground taxi from ramp to ramp, I told him I ammended our original request to make way for other aircraft. I asked him to go ahead and proceed to an adjacent taxiway and then to the hold-short line. He looked at me and said, “What?” To my surprise, he did not know which taxiway we were on, let alone what I was talking about. So what did I do? I gave him progressive instructions.
I use this antecdote to highlight and coorelate the growing number of ground taxi mishaps in aviation, which I believe is a result of inexperience and lack of ground school training. Although it may only be one small element of a larger problem, I would argue it is a contributing factor. The pilot in command is not always readily available to provide immediate assistance. The PI needs to understand the operational enviornment and be situationally aware.
As pilots, we are in a profession of lifelong learning. It’s easy to point the blame at flight school and say, “Well, we never discussed markings and signs.” As professionals, let’s take some personal responsibility and do some reading before we have any more of these preventable mishaps.
A runway holding position marking consist of four yellow lines, two solid and two dashed, spaced 6 to 12 inches apart, and extend across the width of the taxiway or runway.