Crazy idea, I know. But instead of pushing back a passenger plane using a vehicle connected to the front wheel, what if I turn on the reverse-thrust and rev up the engine? My logic is if it can slow down the plane during the landing, it can certainly roll the plane from a dead stop having it go backwards to clear the gate. Would that be possible in terms of laws of physics?

  • $\begingroup$ While I rarely see this happen these days, I used to see it all the time back in the 90s, especially on DC-9/MD-80/MD-90 type aircraft, but also on the older 737s that had low-bypass engines. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jul 21 '16 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Some airports do this all the time. It is noisy. $\endgroup$ – user3344003 Jul 21 '16 at 13:34

It has been done before but is generally frowned upon due to high fuel consumption, equipment FOD caused by debris kicked up by the fan exhaust and intake suction dangers. It is just simpler and safer to connect a powered tug and give the aircraft a pushback.

But yes, you can pushback using thrust reversers.

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    $\begingroup$ It's worth noting that there's a separate, specific term for this procedure: It is called a powerback, and the safety issues been discussed on this site in a separate question $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jul 21 '16 at 6:07

Not being a pilot, I might be wrong, but here goes

Theoretically yes, but a pilot usually only uses reverse thrust above a certain speed, because of the danger of debris on the ground being blown forward and sucked into the engine intake. They use reverse thrust to slow down until 80 or 100 knots (IIRC)

Related: Is it possible to use thrust reversers to taxi backwards?

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Vorm. I wonder how come that's never used in 007 movies. $\endgroup$ – Zuzlx Jul 21 '16 at 5:37

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