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Would ATC accommodate being towed?


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Hello all,

Just a theoretical question, but with the MSFS 2020 FS2Crew Pushback Express supporting push and tow operations, IF ATC was online, would this be permitted using the channel for a taxi route, and being able to hold position if needed?

I know vehicles aren't permitted but is that only laid out for driving those vehicles only? So say could you start out at the BA sheds, be towed to the gate with the tug (with your control, but sitting in the cockpit steering where you need to be) and then preparing for your flight, or the other way unloading at the gate and then towing over to the sheds?

Or would this have to be done offline? I might try it out for novelty but obviously would want to know if this could be done on the network or not? 

Just to be clear this isn't being a tug driver for the day, it's just using the tug on FS2Crew Pushback Express with manual control.

 

James.

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This slides into a very grey area under CoC A9 and A13, but my view is that this activity wouldn't be supported on the network. If you're under tow, you're not operating the aircraft, even if you're sitting in the cockpit and giving instructions to the tow crew as you're essentially driving the tug.

The question comes down to if are you actively participating in the network if you're under tow, and if you are are you connected as a pilot? My opinion is you are not as pilots don't sit in the cockpit whilst their aircraft are under tow, you usually have a member of maintenance or other trained individual sitting in the cockpit as a part of the move crew.   

 For sure I wouldn't want to see this allowed during an event as we need every bit of taxiway for actively participating traffic, and this activity seems to be a bit more of passive participation imo. 

Matt Bartels
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

This slides into a very grey area under CoC A9 and A13, but my view is that this activity wouldn't be supported on the network. If you're under tow, you're not operating the aircraft, even if you're sitting in the cockpit and giving instructions to the tow crew as you're essentially driving the tug.

The question comes down to if are you actively participating in the network if you're under tow, and if you are are you connected as a pilot? My opinion is you are not as pilots don't sit in the cockpit whilst their aircraft are under tow, you usually have a member of maintenance or other trained individual sitting in the cockpit as a part of the move crew.   

 For sure I wouldn't want to see this allowed during an event as we need every bit of taxiway for actively participating traffic, and this activity seems to be a bit more of passive participation imo. 

Ah I see, I must admit in terms of heavies, that tend to move to a parking area especially when not being booked back out for another 8 hours, I did wonder if crew would end up there or not, in that case I can understand it better now.

I wouldn't even attempt doing it during an event or a busy time, at 7 knots I'd be holding a lot of people up, but was wondering on a quiet time, either case should I do it once or twice, I'll do it offline to be sure, thanks for the response and help 🙂

James.

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6 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

If you're under tow, you're not operating the aircraft, even if you're sitting in the cockpit and giving instructions to the tow crew as you're essentially driving the tug.

How is that situation different from a pushback, make it a long, complicated one?

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8 minutes ago, Jonas Helkey said:

How is that situation different from a pushback, make it a long, complicated one?

Pushback is part of a routine flight and the pilots are in the cockpit starting engines, etc.

Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

Pushback is part of a routine flight and the pilots are in the cockpit starting engines, etc.

I see your point and I most certainly see it if we're talking about a tow from one end of an international airport to another, but what if it's out of operational need. By the way, I do not know how the towing works exactly with the software that was mentioned and this is more of a broad question.

Say I derped and taxied myself into a situation I cannot get out of under my own power or me and some other guy somehow unicom'd our way into a nose-to-nose, but I do have the ability to simulate a tug to get us out of it - is that a breach of CoC or would that fall under "part of a routine flight"?

 

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1 hour ago, Jonas Helkey said:

I see your point and I most certainly see it if we're talking about a tow from one end of an international airport to another, but what if it's out of operational need. By the way, I do not know how the towing works exactly with the software that was mentioned and this is more of a broad question.

Say I derped and taxied myself into a situation I cannot get out of under my own power or me and some other guy somehow unicom'd our way into a nose-to-nose, but I do have the ability to simulate a tug to get us out of it - is that a breach of CoC or would that fall under "part of a routine flight"?

 

I would have thought a tow to clear out the way would be reasonable? Especially to return to gate to get out the way?

I must admit this tug feature would be handy, as there has been times where I've messed up the startup and the engines haven't started, or I've not let the APU run long enough and it's dropped power. With GSX on P3D if this happened and I was on the taxiway I'd be stuck and hold others up, which happened to me once at EGPH and blocked a Ryanair, controller asked if I was ready and explained I needed 5 minutes due to a problem. At least now if something does happen I can tow myself back to the gate!

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10 hours ago, Matthew Bartels said:

you usually have a member of maintenance or other trained individual sitting in the cockpit as a part of the move crew.   

With the towbarless tow tractors (ones that pick up the wheel) you dont need any one in the cockpit, as there is no chance of a break away. The person in the cockpit is just a brake rider, they only there to hit the skids if there is a failure with the towbar, during conventional towing.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

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To put the other side of this... I would argue there's not really any difference in this to someone taxiing from one end of the airport to the other.

I can't really see an issue. Would it be OK for someone to start their engines, request taxi to another part of the airport, shut down there and then start a flight? I don't see why not, and functionally from the controller's point of view there's not really any major difference in handling or impact on operations for others here.

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COC, legalities and technicalities aside, I think the gist of it is that VATSIM is about simulating ATC and flight, not a tow truck or ground logistics simulation, and a line has to be drawn somewhere. There's a bit of a gray area somewhere between "pushing back from a gate" and "driving a catering truck around the airport"; as far as I'm concerned, what matters is the spirit of the rules rather than the letter.

So I'd say towing an aircraft farther than a normal pushback out of the gate is OK, as long as it serves the operational purposes of an actual flight, within reason, and within plausible typical operations at that airport. E.g., if you're flying a bizjet out of its home base and spawn at a maintenance hangar, then I don't see why you shouldn't tow the aircraft from the hangar to a position from where it can taxi on its own power. In the "nose-to-nose" scenario, I'd say that's technically an "emergency", which means that the usual restrictions on those apply. Same for many other situations in which towing would be required IRL. If you want to drive a tow truck for the sake of it, then I'd say please don't, for the same reasons we don't want people driving followme's, catering trucks, crew buses, etc., around the airport.

One thing to keep in mind with all this is that towing is a lot slower than taxiing (~7 knots vs. up to 30 knots), so if you're towing an aircraft on a busy taxiway, you will almost certainly be in someone's way.

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