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So the other day I was getting checked out at a local FBO, after returning to the ramp, instructor told me to taxi between two parked (tied-down aircraft). It was a tight squeeze but I taxied at about 1 MPH and I looked at left wing while instructor kept an eye on right wing. I really didn't think anything of it. Note, access to the other side of the line was blocked off by some vehicles so we couldn't taxi in from the back, hence cutting between two parked aircraft. However, we could have shut down on the front and pushed the aircraft back into its parking spot.

However, about 5 minutes later, a car drove up to us as we were securing the aircraft. It was the owner of one of the aircraft that we taxied next to. He spoke to the instructor, I didn't hear exactly what he said, but it was something about not taxing so close to his aircraft. Personally, I have no problem, pushing the airplane back into its spot, but it got me thinking about what regulation if any is implicated here.

I looked, and didn't find anything. So my question is whether there are any FAA, airport or other regulations or rules that prevent a small aircraft from taxiing between two parked aircraft on the ramp? I don't think there is any legal authority prohibiting taxiing between aircraft, or how many feet you must keep from a parked aircraft.

This reminds me of the aviation joke:

Aircraft Squawk - Left main almost needs to be replaced.

A&P Response - Almost replaced left main.

In this case:

Aircraft owner - You almost hit my airplane.

Me - You're welcome.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't believe there is any regulation for this on the FAA side. Just look at how close airliners get while taxiing around gates/push-back. Airlines may have company policies or airports may have policies, but that would be too broad to answer here (and you are asking about GA or small aircraft). $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 22, 2018 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ How about "careless or reckless such as to endanger the life or property of another", or however exactly the regulation goes? Though I would argue you were likely neither careless nor reckless, but rather aware of the danger and taking appropriate steps to mitigate it, assuming of course that really nothing got damaged or hit. But next time, yeah, I'd suggest considering to just move the aircraft by hand power instead... $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 22, 2018 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I agree that is the only possible one that might apply. Although, like you said, with power at idle, riding the brakes at a crawl probably doesn't meet the level of careless or reckless. :) $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Aug 22, 2018 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I think it was an airplane that usually lives in a hanger; it was shinier than the tie-down riffraff. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Aug 22, 2018 at 21:22

2 Answers 2

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There isn't any such regulation. That part of the airport is a "non movement area" (if you want a reference). Of course, you want to be a good neighbor, and not toss rocks, etc. I usually push my airplane into parking, and pull it out before engine start. But that is just me.

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  • $\begingroup$ I totally agree! I rent so usually all of the aircraft in and around the rental aircraft are the FBO's aircraft, and they don't have a problem with us starting up on the line. Personally, I usually taxi to the parking spot and push back unless its clear. However, I can also understand that instructors who are doing this 5-6 times a day are in a bit of a hurry and want to taxi through into their spot. But Its definitely a "being a good neighbor" issue more than a regulatory one. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Aug 22, 2018 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ The non-movement area is still governed by 91.13. The movement area is defined as the area of the airport used by aircraft for taxiing, etc, "exclusive of loading ramps and parking areas;" 91.13 (b) applies to "any part of the surface of an airport used by aircraft for air commerce (including areas used by those aircraft for receiving or discharging persons or cargo)." $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    May 4, 2023 at 14:38
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This operation may be governed by 14 CFR 91.111:

(a) No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.

The question is whether taxiing an aircraft under its own power counts as "operating" that aircraft:

Operate, with respect to aircraft, means use, cause to use or authorize to use aircraft, for the purpose (except as provided in § 91.13 of this chapter) of air navigation including the piloting of aircraft, with or without the right of legal control (as owner, lessee, or otherwise).

In other words, whether or not taxiing an aircraft at the end of a flight is using it "for the purpose of air navigation." I am not a lawyer but I imagine it would not be difficult to argue that taxiing post-flight falls under the umbrella of "air navigation."

Regardless, 91.13 would apply (see how they strip the "air navigation" definition out of the term "operate"):

(b) Aircraft operations other than for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft, other than for the purpose of air navigation, on any part of the surface of an airport used by aircraft for air commerce (including areas used by those aircraft for receiving or discharging persons or cargo), in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

That definition—"used for receiving or discharging"—refers specifically to the non-movement area of an airport. Just because you are operating on the non-movement area does not relieve you from the regulation. However, now a violation depends on whether you were "careless or reckless."

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  • $\begingroup$ The only issue I see with respect to 91.13(b) is that the aircraft have to have been operated on a part of the airport used for "air commerce", the definition of which may make its application difficult to associate with the aircraft involved in the OP's question. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    May 4, 2023 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ That's a fair point. But I would say that if a Part 135 or even Part 91K aircraft has ever or could ever use that ramp, then it is a part of the airport used for air commerce. (And that's without trying to parse whether "used for air commerce" describes the part of the airport specifically, or the entire airport in general!) $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    May 4, 2023 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ I think a weakness in this approach is the lack of demonstrable collision hazard. It wasn't luck which kept a collision from happening, it was proper care and operation. Reasonable minds might disagree on how close you have to get before crossing that line to "hazard", but I would suspect that for any punitive administrative action to hold there would have to be some component of the operation which was not in the pilot's control. For instance, if it were gusty, the wings were rocking back and forth, and it was just luck that they didn't make contact. $\endgroup$ May 4, 2023 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Kenn, I'm not claiming that this definitely was or wasn't a violation of 91.111—just pointing OP to a potentially-relevant regulation. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    May 4, 2023 at 15:54

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