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Light Gun Signals: How to Taxi

Asked by: 1528 views General Aviation

I was just wondering how you would get a taxi clearance and taxi to/from a runway in loss comms scenario. 1) If you did not receive any taxi instructions before loss comms, would ATC give you a flashing green light to let you taxi to the active runway? 2) How would you know to cross a runway? Would you hold short of a runway and wait for a flashing red or a flashing green? Or is flashing red only used for after you land on the runway and ATC wants you to clear the active? 3) After landing, would you get a flashing white followed by a steady green for taxiing to your base/ramp? Or is flashing white only used when ATC wants you to return to your ramp after you have started taxiing to the active? I would like to try taxiing with light gun signals at my local airport when it's not busy as practice, but I don't want to request something and not know what I'm doing. Thank you.

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  1. Best Answer


    Dauntless Aviation - www.dauntless-soft.com on Aug 07, 2015

    In my experience in a light gun situation (which includes many practice tries with students and a few times in real life when i had to move a NORDO aircraft to/from a class B), you usually have the fairly undivided attention of ATC. I don’t remember the exact details, but i think the underlying principle is that you should think of the light gun signals in this case as words or phrases in an ongoing conversation. You should also remember that the light gun is very directional and will be pointed at you in a way that’s quite obvious that it’s pointed at you. So, if you get a green signal to taxi and for example if at some point you taxi and approach a runway intersection, what you might want to do is stop, have a good look around for conflicts, and then have another look at the tower. If the green is still pointed at you and green, you’re good to go. If you reach that intersection and have any doubts, just wait until you see the green light.

    I could very much be wrong on this, but I suspect that at the margins there are no hard and fast rules on the use of some of these light gun signals and/or the ATC guys themselves might be rusty or unsure about them. If you view it as a ‘conversation’ you’ll be fine.

    As I said, i have always found atc gives anybody operating under light gun signals a great deal of care and attention and since the guns are so directional, the indended meaning at any given point is quite clear. You don’t need to overthink the marginal scenarios you are asking about, I think.

    I also suggest that pilots always keep a copy of the light gun signal codes in the cockpit. it’s one thing to learn them for an FAA written test quite another to recall some of the nuances should they be needed in an actual situation.

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