Taxiing the Big Bus…..

July 6, 2011 by Bruce Landsberg

With cars, the fenders are just a little beyond where we sit and yet, body shops do a great business in fenders.  Aircraft are obviously different and new students need reminders that they have typically 12-18 feet sticking out from each side of the fuselage.  Big Bus crews should have a bit more concern. After the first officer reportedly advised that it looked a little tight, the captain ignored the warning and proceeded with a clipped wing modification. This happened at the Paris Air show – isn’t there always an audience?

Below is a picture of a much smaller ding that occurred to a Cessna 172 pilot that shows none of us are immune.  It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that even being on the yellow line, as the big bus was, isn’t a guarantee.  One of my solo students whacked a delivery van that was improperly parked next to a taxiway and although the student was also on the yellow line – he managed to cause a wing rebuild on a Cessna 150. The airport manager and the van driver took no responsibility so this is also a plug for considering renter’s insurance.

And of course,  who can forget the “Spin the RJ incident” at JFK awhile back.  These little deals cost all of us quite a bit annually in insurance. Beware the yellow line and remember those appendages that make flight possible extend a long way from where we’re sitting.

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

ASI Online Safety Courses  |  ASI Safety Quiz  |  Support the AOPA Foundation

  • Steve Kittel

    this is a case where perhaps stop and get a wing walker out there to take a look would have taken 15 mins but saved tens of thousands of dollars in repairs… Hope the captain got reamed for it.

  • Dr.Mad

    The pre requisite to have the priviledge to operate machinery or tools is accepting responsibilty for one’s JUDGEMENT.
    Just because the rule(s) or instruction(s) imply a right of way, does not mean it is safe to proceed.
    Sorry! It happens to the best of us but no excuse!
    If no one was hurt, learn from your luck.

  • Bruce Landsberg


    In the case of the Cessna, it may have $10 of thousands. In the case of the Airbus – you’re probably looking at hundred of thousands if not more. This type of error is often known as a lapse where a simple oversight leads to a major expense – about par on landing gear up, except there isn’t a checklist on taxiing distance.

  • Matt Kahn

    I didn’t care for your four choices in the blog poll. As a former C-5 pilot, I remember a few truisms. 1: There is no such thing as a ground “accident”; 2: Good CRM includes LISTENING to all crewmember’s inputs and responding appropriately; 3: CLEAR CLEAR CLEAR; and 4: When in doubt about wingtip clearance – Stop taxiing, deploy wing walkers or arrange for a tug (or have the obstacle, including a building, moved!). As far as I’m concerned, it is like the sign in the antiques shop. You break it – you bought it!