Taxi At Large Airports Like A Pro
Flying|August 2017

Improve Your Airport Surface Operations With Some Help From Your Ipad

Bret Koebbe

Over the course of your flying career you’ll likely experience several technological advances that will change the way you fly. In the early years of aviation, these came in the form of new airframe design and propulsion innovations, such as the transition from tail wheel to tricycle landing gear and turbojet engines. Next came the development of sophisticated avionics, providing pilots with the HSI, loran and RNAV direct-to navigation. The biggest leap in this category took place in the mid-1990s, when GPS was opened up for civilian use, unlocking the modern form of navigation that we all depend on today.

With each of these breakthroughs in aviation, pilots were sure to look back and wonder, how did we ever get by without this? That question runs through my mind on just about every flight when I think about all the developments that have taken place during my short flying career of 17 years. At the top of my list is the iPad and the ecosystem of aviation apps and accessories that it helped to spawn, which collectively have done more for safety and situational awareness than anything else over the past two decades.

Ask a group of experienced pilots their opinion of how the iPad has changed the way they operate in the cockpit and you’re likely to get a variety of answers depending on what and where they fly. Some marvel at the simple fact that there are no longer paper charts to manage. Others love the display of radar imagery on a moving map during summertime flying. Those flying in the high country benefit from the terrain and synthetic-vision displays.

But there is a less glamorous phase of flight that the iPad has significantly improved, which many may not consider: taxiing around the airport. During my private pilot training, the most stressful and task-saturated event was right after touchdown at tower-controlled airports, when I had to determine my location and call ground control for a taxi clearance, all while completing the after-landing checklist. Inevitably, the ground controller would read back a clearance with five or six taxiways and a few locations to hold short to make sure I was on my toes.

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