Auxiliary Power Units (APUs)
APUs are generally smaller turbine engines that provide compressed air for starting engines, cabin heating and cooling, and electrical power while on the ground. Their operation is normally simple. By turning a switch on and up to the start position (spring loaded to on position), the engine starts automatically. During start, the exhaust gas temperature must be monitored. APUs are at idle at 100 percent rpm with no load. After the engine reaches its operating rpm, it can be used for cooling or heating the cabin and for electrical power. It is normally used to start the main engines.
Unsatisfactory Turbine Engine Starts
A hot start occurs when the engine starts, but the exhaust gas temperature exceeds specified limits. This is usually caused by an excessively rich fuel/air mixture entering the combustion chamber. This condition can be caused by either too much fuel or not enough airflow. The fuel to the engine must be shut off immediately.
False or Hung Start
False or hung starts occur when the engine starts normally, but the rpm remains at some low value rather than increasing to the normal starting rpm. This is often the result of insufficient power to the starter or the starter cutting off before the engine starts self-accelerating. In this case, shut the engine down.
Engine Fails to Start
The engine failing to start within the prescribed time limit can be caused by lack of fuel to the engine, insufficient or no electrical power to the exciter in the ignition system, or incorrect fuel mixture. If the engine fails to start within the prescribed time, shut it down.
In all cases of unsatisfactory starts, the fuel and ignition must be turned off. Continue rotating the compressor for approximately 15 seconds to remove accumulated fuel from the engine. If unable to motor (rotate) the engine, allow a 30-second fuel draining period before attempting another start.
Towing of Aircraft
Movement of large aircraft about the airport, flight line, and hangar is usually accomplished by towing with a tow tractor (sometimes called a “tug”). [Figure 1-19] In the case of small aircraft, some moving is accomplished by hand pushing on the correct areas of the aircraft. Aircraft may also be taxied about the flight line but usually only by certain qualified personnel.
Towing aircraft can be a hazardous operation, causing damage to the aircraft and injury to personnel, if done recklessly or carelessly. The following paragraphs outline the general procedure for towing aircraft. However, specific instructions for each model of aircraft are detailed in the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and are to be followed in all instances.
Before the aircraft to be towed is moved, a qualified person must be in the flight deck to operate the brakes in case the tow bar fails or becomes unhooked. The aircraft can then be stopped, preventing possible damage.
Some types of tow bars available for general use can be used for many types of towing operations. [Figure 1-20] These bars are designed with sufficient tensile strength to pull most aircraft, but are not intended to be subjected to torsional or twisting loads. Many have small wheels that permit them to be drawn behind the towing vehicle going to or from an aircraft. When the bar is attached to the aircraft, inspect all the engaging devices for damage or malfunction before moving the aircraft.
Some tow bars are designed for towing various types of aircraft. However, other special types can be used on a particular aircraft only. Such bars are usually designed and built by the aircraft manufacturer.
When towing the aircraft, the towing vehicle speed must be reasonable, and all persons involved in the operation must be alert. When the aircraft is stopped, do not rely upon the brakes of the towing vehicle alone to stop the aircraft. The person in the flight deck must coordinate the use of the aircraft brakes with those of the towing vehicle. A typical smaller aircraft tow tractor (or tug) is shown in Figure 1-21.
The attachment of the tow bar varies on different types of aircraft. Aircraft equipped with tail wheels are generally towed forward by attaching the tow bar to the main landing gear. In most cases, it is permissible to tow the aircraft in reverse by attaching the tow bar to the tail wheel axle. Any time an aircraft equipped with a tail wheel is towed, the tail wheel must be unlocked or the tail wheel locking mechanism may damage or break. Aircraft equipped with tricycle landing gear are generally towed forward by attaching a tow bar to the axle of the nosewheel. They may also be towed forward or backward by attaching a towing bridle or specially designed towing bar to the towing lugs on the main landing gear. When an aircraft is towed in this manner, a steering bar is attached to the nosewheel to steer the aircraft.
The following towing and parking procedures are typical of one type of operation. They are examples and not necessarily suited to every type of operation. Aircraft ground-handling personnel must be thoroughly familiar with all procedures pertaining to the types of aircraft being towed and local operation standards governing ground handling of aircraft. Competent persons that have been properly checked out direct the aircraft towing team.
- The towing vehicle driver is responsible for operating the vehicle in a safe manner and obeying emergency stop instructions given by any team member.
- The person in charge assigns team personnel as wing walkers. A wing walker is stationed at each wingtip, in such a position that he or she can ensure adequate clearance of any obstruction in the path of the aircraft. A tail walker is assigned when sharp turns are to be made or when the aircraft is to be backed into position.
- A qualified person occupies the pilot’s seat of the towed aircraft to observe and operate the brakes as required. When necessary, another qualified person is stationed to watch and maintain aircraft hydraulic system pressure.
- The person in charge of the towing operation verifies that, on aircraft with a steerable nosewheel, the locking scissors are set to full swivel for towing. The locking device must be reset after the tow bar has been removed from the aircraft. Persons stationed in the aircraft are not to attempt to steer or turn the nosewheel when the tow bar is attached to the aircraft.
- Under no circumstances is anyone permitted to walk or to ride between the nosewheel of an aircraft and the towing vehicle, nor ride on the outside of a moving aircraft or on the towing vehicle. In the interest of safety, no attempt to board or leave a moving aircraft or towing vehicle is permitted.
- The towing speed of the aircraft is not to exceed that of the walking team members. The aircraft’s engines usually are not operated when the aircraft is being towed into position.
- The aircraft brake system is to be charged before each towing operation. Aircraft with faulty brakes are towed into position only for repair of brake systems, and then personnel must be standing by ready with chocks for emergency use. Chocks must be immediately available in case of an emergency throughout any towing operation.
- To avoid possible personal injury and aircraft damage during towing operations, entrance doors are closed, ladders retracted, and gear-down locks installed.
- Prior to towing any aircraft, check all tires and landing gear struts for proper inflation. (Inflation of landing gear struts of aircraft in overhaul and storage is excluded.)
- When moving aircraft, do not start and stop suddenly. For added safety, aircraft brakes must never be applied during towing, except upon command by one of the tow team members in an emergency situation.
- Aircraft are parked in specified areas. Generally, the distance between rows of parked aircraft is great enough to allow immediate access of emergency vehicles in case of fire, as well as free movement of equipment and materials.
- Wheel chocks are placed fore and aft of the main landing gear of the parked aircraft.
- Internal or external control locks (gust locks or blocks) are used while the aircraft is parked.
- Prior to any movement of aircraft across runways or taxiways, contact the airport control tower on the appropriate frequency for clearance to proceed.
- An aircraft parked in a hangar must be statically grounded immediately.
As a general rule, only rated pilots and qualified airframe and powerplant (A&P) technicians are authorized to start, run up, and taxi aircraft. All taxiing operations are 1-20 performed in accordance with applicable local regulations. Figure 1-22 contains the standard taxi light signals used by control towers to control and expedite the taxiing of aircraft. The following section provides detailed instructions on taxi signals and related taxi instructions.
Many ground accidents have occurred as a result of improper technique in taxiing aircraft. Although the pilot is ultimately responsible for the aircraft until the engine is stopped, a taxi signalman can assist the pilot around the flight line. In some aircraft configurations, the pilot’s vision is obstructed while on the ground. The pilot cannot see obstructions close to the wheels or under the wings and has little idea of what is behind the aircraft. Consequently, the pilot depends upon the taxi signalman for directions. Figure 1-23 shows a taxi signalman indicating his readiness to assume guidance of the aircraft by extending both arms at full length above his head, palms facing each other.
The standard position for a signalman is slightly ahead of and in line with the aircraft’s left wingtip. As the signalman faces the aircraft, the nose of the aircraft is on the left. [Figure 1-24] The signalman must stay far enough ahead of the wingtip to remain in the pilot’s field of vision. It is a good practice to perform a foolproof test to be sure the pilot can see all signals. If the signalman can see the pilot’s eyes, the pilot can see the signals.Figure 1-24 shows the standard aircraft taxiing signals published in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). There are other standard signals, such as those published by the Armed Forces. Furthermore, operation conditions in many areas may call for a modified set of taxi signals. The signals shown in Figure 1-24 represent a minimum number of the most commonly used signals. Whether this set of signals or a modified set is used is not the most important consideration, as long as each flight operational center uses a suitable, agreed-upon set of signals. Figure 1-25 illustrates some of the most commonly used helicopter operating signals.The taxi signals to be used must be studied until the taxi signalman can execute them clearly and precisely. The signals are to be given in such a way that the pilot cannot confuse their meaning. Remember that the pilot receiving the signals is always some distance away and often look out and down from a difficult angle. Thus, the signalman’s hands must be kept well separated, and signals are to be over-exaggerated rather than risk making indistinct signals. If there is any doubt about a signal, or if the pilot does not appear to be following the signals, use the “stop” sign and begin the series of signals again.
The signalman is to always try to give the pilot an indication of the approximate area that the aircraft is to be parked. The signalman must glance behind himself or herself often when walking backward to prevent backing into a propeller or tripping over a chock, fire bottle, tie-down line, or other obstruction.
Taxi signals are usually given at night with the aid of illuminated wands attached to flashlights. [Figure 1-26] Night signals are made in the same manner as day signals with the exception of the stop signal. The stop signal used at night is the “emergence stop” signal. This signal is made by crossing the wands to form a lighted “X” above and in front of the head.