Re: Backing under own power

From:         geoffm@purplehaze.Corp.Sun.COM (Geoff Miller)
Organization: Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Date:         02 Jun 93 00:16:07 PDT
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  or MIME structure (Tony D. Lowe) writes:

>Something I've always wondered.  Are jet aircraft able to back up under
>their own power?  I've often heard rumor that they can, but usually don't
>because of visibility problems, etc.

Sure they can.  Most airlines don't do that, however, because of concerns
about foreign object damage and/or the hazard to buildings, ground personnel,
ramp equipment, etc., from the jet blast.  I'm sure those concerns would be 
especially strong in the case of the 737, due to the engines' proximity to 
the ground as well as their forward position, which places them much closer
to the terminal building when the plane is at the gate.  

I don't know which U.S. airlines currently do this, but I remember that 
Republic started backing out its DC-9s under engine power in the mid-
Eighties.  I observed that once at Tucson; a marshaller standing just 
ahead and to the left of the airplane's nose pointed his light wands
together and moved them over each other in a rolling motion, as the signal
to begin backing up.  The thrust reversers popped out, power was increased,
and the plane moved back fairly quickly.  The rearward motion was arrested 
with a burst of forward thrust.

The operation was quite noisy, even inside the terminal, and the plate glass 
windows in the departure lounge shook quite a bit.  I remember reading in 
AvLeak around that time  that the procedure called for the pilot to keep his
feet planted flat on the floor so that he wouldn't instinctively use the 
brakes to stop and plant the plane on its tail.

Interestingly, I've never heard of this being done with propeller-driven


Geoff Miller			+ + + + + + + +        Sun Microsystems
geoffm@purplehaze.Corp.Sun.COM	+ + + + + + + +     Menlo Park, California