Saturday, April 30, 2011

Warning - Ramp Activities Rant

The safety seminar at Latrobe Airport went well. We had quite a crowd show up willing to subject themselves to 2-1/2 hours of safety talk. It is much appreciated.

The day before, John and I headed out to the airport to finalize things and stopped by the local FBO, Vee Neal Aviation to see what was new. As I strolled past the door to the ramp, I noticed a typed noticed on the door. It read something like - PILOTS please do not do run-ups on the ramp. I quizzed one of the line guys and asked "have you had pilots doing engine run ups where the airplanes park?". "Oh yeah" one replied.  "One airplane recently pointed his airplane toward the runway, advanced his throttle and blew stones and debris onto the parked cars outside the fence located directly behind the plane."

Last summer, I saw an airplane ready to taxi and decided to do his run up before leaving his parking spot. Two observations: There was an airplane parked directly in front of this plane. A mechanic, a pilot and his passenger were at the plane trying to trouble-shoot a battery problem. So, as the pilot was running his engine at high RPMs, what would have happened if he diverted his attention inside the cockpit and didn't realize his brakes failed or the plane was moving? He probably would have taken out an airplane plus 3 people. My second observation was the fact that there were three airplanes parked behind this guy. I was happy my plane wasn't parked directly behind.

I've noticed three such incidents on our "apron" within the past five years. Those are the ones I have witnessed. Since I don't live at the airport, I'm sure there have been more.

So, when did it become customary to do engine run ups on the ramp rather than at the run up area at the end of the runway, where they're supposed to be performed? In my early flight instruction, my CFI emphasized that you do any run ups where there aren't airplanes, people nor cars around to be damaged. We taxied to the runway and executed a run up just before takeoff. We made sure the plane was angled so we didn't blast an airplane in line behind us.

Let's look at this logically. It's a matter of mere courtesy and awareness of what's around you. Foremost, it's a matter of safety. My suggestion: Pilots please try to keep in mind, you are not the only ones on the airport; think about what's behind you when advancing the throttle.

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