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This question is related to a single-engined piston-powered airplane.

I was at a small airport. I noticed another plane parked behind mine. The pilot/owner was in the process of covering up his plane. I walked up to my plane, did some preflight checks, entered the cockpit, did my engine start checks, shouted as loudly as I could - PROP CLEAR - waited a few seconds and then started the engine. A few seconds later the other pilot walked up to me and was enraged that I had started the engine without notifying him. I told him that I shouted but he claims he didn't hear me.

  1. What is the correct procedure/etiquette in this situation?

  2. Was I supposed to walk up to him and notify him before starting the engine?

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the correct etiquette would be to pull your plane out of the tiedown or wait until he has finished. You don’t want the prop blast to blow his cover away or blow dirt onto him. Like @Dave says in his answer below, you want to keep junk from flying into cars, hangars, people, and other airplanes as much as possible. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Jun 12 '18 at 4:33
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shouted as loudly as I could - PROP CLEAR - waited a few seconds and then started the engine.

Something to note here. While your shouting of PROP CLEAR was correct you need to Look Up and ensure no one is around when starting your engine. This is a common mistake, however you can bust a check ride for only shouting and not looking.

Was I supposed to walk up to him and notify him before starting the engine?

According to the FAA handbook, yes you should have alerted him and/or waited for him to clear the area.

Prior to engine start, the pilot must ensure that the ramp area surrounding the airplane is clear of persons, equipment, and other hazards from coming into contact with the airplane or the propeller. Also, an awareness of what is behind the airplane prior to engine start is standard practice. A propeller or other engine thrust can produce substantial velocities, result in damage to property, and injure those on the ground. The hazard of debris being blown into persons or property must be mitigated by the pilot. A

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    $\begingroup$ I did Look Up after shouting PROP CLEAR. Thats why I waited a few seconds. Thanks for pointing me to the FAA Handbook. I guess I was wrong. In all instances before this, I had always started engines when there was no one behind me. $\endgroup$ – Prashant Saraswat Jun 12 '18 at 1:46
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    $\begingroup$ @PrashantSaraswat Just noting the look up for others that may read the answer (it was pointed out to me by my DPE prior to my check ride actually). $\endgroup$ – Dave Jun 12 '18 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ It's worth pointing out you should be shouting outside of the aircraft, so many times I've seen people "shout" inside the aircraft with all the doors and windows closed. With all light aircraft it's so easy to open a door or a window and project your shout outside of the aircraft. $\endgroup$ – BDLPPL Jun 12 '18 at 8:18
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, there is a small window in the Piper Dakota. I always shout out of the aircraft. $\endgroup$ – Prashant Saraswat Jun 12 '18 at 14:50
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He may or may not hear you from 30 feet away to the rear. In any case, in that situation it's more of a courtesy thing than a safety one. The callout is more for people that could be near the propeller. When you see a guy in the middle of trying to put covers on his plane directly behind you, you should anticipate that your propeller wake is going to cause some grief, warning or not. You should've waited until he was done or moved the plane by hand to point it away, or if you really want to make friends in aviation, which goes a long way on the long run, gone over and offered to help if it was a two person job being done by one.

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  • $\begingroup$ You are right. I understand I made a mistake and will be more careful in the future. $\endgroup$ – Prashant Saraswat Jun 12 '18 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ With that attitude, you have a bright future! I once taxied across a ramp in a rental 172 way too fast. That fact kind of dawned on me after parking as I spied the airport manager marching toward me with steam coming out his ears. As he was about to start dressing me down, I cut him off and said "I know why you are here; I was going way too fast. Sorry and it won't happen again.". He said "OK great. Thanks." and walked off in a much better mood. $\endgroup$ – John K Jun 12 '18 at 17:26

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