Some of you observant folks may have noticed me opening smaller fields recently. If you are in the IFVARB Slack, you would have seen me post about “Pattern Parties”. That was only supposed to have one iteration, but I kept noticing that some people, even those on the community did not understand how to request or how to use the backtaxi command. I did try and make this post as visual as possible, so people could scroll through quickly and still get the gist of what I was saying (and also so lazy people like @Dylan_Bright didn’t have to read too much).
I do not mean for this to be a callout thread, and I only want to help people learn to make the servers better for everyone. Anyone who’s controlled at an airport requiring backtaxi has experienced some of these issues for sure, whether expert or training, so without further ado, here’s the main part of the post…
How do I request backtaxi?
Requesting backtaxi is quite simple, all you need to do is request takeoff as normal, and the air traffic controller should clear you to back taxi, like the situation below.
Take another look at that second picture, specifically the green box. In some cases, the controller may tell you to contact ground when off the runway. In most cases, this simply means to exit the runway and hold short, and you will often see it followed by a “Stay on my frequency” command. There is no need to request takeoff again in that scenario.
How do I backtaxi?
Backtaxiing is a very similar process to just normally taxiing. Go toward the threshold of the assigned runway following the center lines on the runway. One big change, however, is that you can, and should go upwards of 35 knts while backtaxiing. The image below illustrates a good backtaxi.
In some cases, like the example at EGLC, a controller may instruct two or more aircraft to backtaxi at the same time. If you’re the aircraft in the front, please ensure that you are not holding up the traffic by taxiing too slowly.
What if ATC doesn’t clear me for backtaxi and I still feel like it is required?
In general, the controller should clear you for backtaxi if it is required, but if your weight is high, then you may need more runway for takeoff. You are allowed to backtaxi even if you simply get a takeoff clearance, without a backtaxi instruction. You will not get ghosted for this, unless you are severely impeding the airport flow (e.g. Backtaxiing at 5 knts after being cleared for immediate takeoff with a plane on final).
What are some examples of how to not backtaxi? N.B. These are not aimed at any specific users, since I have seen many of these infractions over the past few days.
The biggest mistake I have encountered is when people request a runway crossing when they intend to backtaxi. Not only is this incorrect, it may also confuse the controller in the event of there being another taxiway on the other side of the runway. If you do request this, you can expect to receive a check help pages message and a handoff to tower.
This one, while quite funny, I will admit, is the most incorrect out of all of these. Backtaxi does not mean that you should taxi in the other direction.
This error is also one that I found quite frequently. When you are backtaxiing, you taxi on the runway. Don’t try and squeeze your a318 in the little gap between the runway and the grass, be logical and simply taxi on the runway. I promise you won’t get ghosted ;).
Who were the [friendly] people who helped me make this?
Big thanks to @Matt (who fortunately did not see me acting like an idiot) and @RTG113 (who enjoyed sending me that check help pages a little too much).