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KingFriday013
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Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:48 am

As the title asks, do any airlines still do powerbacks today (i.e., backing out of the gate only using reverse thrust)? I'm scheduled to fly a DC-9-30 DTW-LGA in a couple of weeks, and I was wondering if there was any chance I might get to experience one.


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brilondon
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:51 am

No, DL(NW) have stopped their practice of backing form the terminal using reverse thrusters at DTW. I don't know of any other airline that does this as it is perceived as anti-environmental or what ever the term is.

[Edited 2009-12-08 16:53:30 by brilondon]
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727forever
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:38 am

As far as I know FL still has approval to conduct powerbacks on the 717, but operationally chooses not to conduct powerbacks unless operationally required. The reasons not too are two fold. It is hard on the engines both for FOD and engine airflow issues. It is also not very economical as it requires both engines and an extended period of high fuel flows while in reverse. I agree it is very cool when done.

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stratosphere
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:44 am

NW was one of the last airlines in the US that I know of to do powerbacks. I remember when I started at NW in 1988 in EWR Eastern Airlines used to powerback a 757 off their gates. That was pretty interesting as NW would not allow anything larger than a 727 for powerbacks.
 
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:44 am

Incidentally, I myself have experienced one before on a NWA DC9 in MSP many years ago. It is very cool... The plane just reverses and taxies off without the need to halt for the tow disconnection. Very much like a car!  Smile
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NWAROOSTER
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:48 am

Northwest started doing power backs, when they merged with Republic, which did power backs. Northwest then even did some with 727s with the number 1 and 3 engines.
Northwest quit doing power backs due to the toll on engines and the debris that was thrown about.  old 
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JBirdAV8r
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:09 am

Last one I did was in an American S80 back in the early 00's. Very cool.

My earliest memories of a powerback were of an American aircraft at CHS in the late 80s/early 90s. I remember it as a 727, but it had clamshell reversers--so it may well have been an S80. Very cool.
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cf6ppe
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:41 am



Quoting 727forever (Reply 2):
It is also not very economical as it requires both engines and an extended period of high fuel flows while in reverse.

On a JT8D, the idle fuel flow is about 1050 lbs/hr. or real close to 2.5 gals/min. (per engine basis)

So just how much additional fuel is burned above engine idle fuel flow in a power back situation..??

On DC9's with canted T/R's, any debris from the ramp would be blown outward and away from the inlet vortex area.

On DC9's with out canted T/R's, debris should be blown under the wing unless the flaps are down in a landing configuration (at which time the debris bounces off the flap and into the inlet vortex area).

Also, with FOD being such a problem, why is there any loose material on the ramp..??

It seems to me that the additional fuel burned would more than offset the cost of ramp folks hooking up the tow bar and pushing the aircraft back. The fact that there usually not enough tugs to do all of the push backs needed in getting multiple aircraft off their gates during a complex could also be a factor.

Anyway, just my questions and thoughts.... Smile
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:08 pm

Since powerback option is normally used when the Pushback is not around.In todays times its very unlikely,compounded to the chances of FOD & life of the powerplant.

Just to add....During a powerback.....Stop with Forward thrust & NOT THE BRAKES.

regds
MEL.
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
71Zulu
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:07 pm

Last powerback for me was on a NW DC93 at MEM in Jan 0f 06 and think they stopped doing them shortly after that.

Quoting 727forever (Reply 2):
As far as I know FL still has approval to conduct powerbacks on the 717, but operationally chooses not to conduct powerbacks unless operationally required.

FL did one at MSY a couple years ago. Didn't see it but heard the pilot ask ground for permission to powerback for training purposes.
 
A346Dude
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:57 pm



Quoting CF6PPE (Reply 7):
Also, with FOD being such a problem, why is there any loose material on the ramp..??

Do you really think anyone can keep a ramp free of every single piece of debris, all the time?
You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
 
maddogjt8d
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:06 pm

I've only experienced one powerback a few years ago on an NW DC-9-30, it was extremely cool. It's too bad they don't do them anymore, but I understand why for operational reasons.

Here is the video I shot of it. Sorry for the poor quality, this was a few years ago and digital cameras shooting video just were not that great back then!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRrgXeceSSw
 
vandenheuvel
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:36 pm

I made a power back on a NT ATR72 just 2 years ago. It was on a flight from LPA to ACE.

I'm nearly sure I also witnessed an Islas Airways ATR doing the same on ACE. I flew the NT 737 here, so I had to wait for push-back. Still the 737 arrived at LPA first  

Tim,

[Edited 2009-12-10 09:37:57 by vandenheuvel]
 
YYZRWY23
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:06 am

IIRC, I thought FL still did power backs at a few particular gates at ATL. Couldn't find a source however. Anyone that may know of this practice or its history at ATL?

YYZRWY23
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Transpac787
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:13 am

While not officially authorized nor corporately condoned, it happens on a very rare basis in DEN if the circumstances require it  Wink  shhh 


 
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DocLightning
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:27 pm



Quoting MadDogJT8D (Reply 11):
I've only experienced one powerback a few years ago on an NW DC-9-30, it was extremely cool. It's too bad they don't do them anymore, but I understand why for operational reasons.

I experienced one in 2005 from JFK (I think...might have been LGA) on a NW DC-9. It never made sense to me why they would do this. It's not like there's a shortage of tugs at JFK. Either way, it was pretty cool to experience!
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PITingres
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:49 am



Quoting 727forever (Reply 2):
As far as I know FL still has approval to conduct powerbacks on the 717...

The only powerbacks I've experienced have been FL at ATL, and the last one was probably 4 (gah!) years ago now. I can't imagine that it makes financial sense unless there is a shortage of tugs and/or wing-walkers, and the departure slot is ephemeral.

To address the OP's specific question, I'd say that the chances of your experiencing a powerback out of DTW is nil. Unfortunately.
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KingFriday013
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:13 pm



Quoting PITIngres (Reply 16):
To address the OP's specific question, I'd say that the chances of your experiencing a powerback out of DTW is nil. Unfortunately.

Meh. I'm still glad to be getting on a D9S before they're gone. It'll be my first DC-9, and I wouldn't be too surprised if it were my last (at least my last -30).

Thanks for all your responses.

-J.
Will add later
 
Braniff747SP
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:41 pm



Quoting KingFriday013 (Reply 17):

5 bucks + shipping if you bring me a safety card.
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AAR90
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:34 am

AA MD80s are still authorized to perform powerbacks, but the preference is to pushback using a tug whenever/wherever possible.

You've never experienced a real powerback until you've backed up an aircraft putting 1/2 of it over-the-side of a moving aircraft carrier. Do that with just inches between your plane and others on either side, at night, in bad weather, with pitching deck [and 15 minutes survival time in the water]... NOW you've performed a true powerback.  Wink
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Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:28 am



Quoting Stratosphere (Reply 3):
Eastern Airlines used to powerback a 757 off their gates

Are you sure??? I highly doubt this given the type of TR on the RRs (and PWs for that matter) on the 757.

As I understand it, the barrel-type TR on the 757 (and 330, 380, 747, 767, 777, 787, etc.) means that only the bypass (cool) air gets reversed, which at low speeds risks overheating the combustion (aft) portion of the engine due to the temporarily-deflected bypass airflow. Target-type reversers (i.e., DC-9 and 732), on the other hand, are fully aft of the engine so the combustion portion gets cooled with bypass air before any air (cool or hot) gets reversed, allowing use of the TR at low speeds w/o risk of damage or accelerated wear.

Further, as I also understand it, the type of TR on the 757 requires that reverse thrust be terminated after landing no later than reaching a certain airspeed (wild guess: 40 kts??) for the aforementioned reason...as opposed to the type of TR on the DC-9 which can, theoretically, be used all the way from landing speed to rest without risk of overheating the combustion/turbine components. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.
Jack @ AUS
 
Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:47 am



Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 8):
During a powerback.....Stop with Forward thrust & NOT THE BRAKES.

Very good point...one definitely wants to keep the nose gear on the ground.  Smile

Come to think of it, all of the powerbacks I've experienced (on NW DC-9s and 727s as well as a couple of AA M80s, all in the late 80s, 90s and early 00s) indeed involved the use of forward thrust to stop the reverse motion of the aircraft. A number of times the brakes were applied, but ONLY after forward motion was achieved...to keep the aircraft from lurching forward more than necessary to maintain tarmac position when called for before taxiing out. Makes perfect sense now.

HAWK21M: in terms of gate position PRIOR to reverse, your comment also reminds me of the typical brief forward motion immediately followed by brake application and then reverse thrust, to "flex" the tires and minimize the tailstrike risk that would exist if one were to apply the TRs directly from rest after the aircraft has been parked at the gate.

It was also fun to experience the engines starting right at the gate...a nice diversion from the "routine" pushback.
Jack @ AUS
 
stratosphere
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:24 am



Quoting Western727 (Reply 20):
Are you sure??? I highly doubt this given the type of TR on the RRs (and PWs for that matter) on the 757.

Yep I am sure..They were the only airline I ever saw that did it with an aircraft that large..Definately more of a risk of FOD ingestion. In fact they were the only airline period that I ever saw do it at EWR. They were at the end of a satelite and powerbacked straight back but they didn't go very far. At NW we never did it with any a/c larger than a 727. Also our 727's had cascade pneumatic reversers and they powerbacked quite well better I thought than the DC-9 which had hydraulic clam shell type reversers.

Quoting Western727 (Reply 21):
HAWK21M: in terms of gate position PRIOR to reverse, your comment also reminds me of the typical brief forward motion immediately followed by brake application and then reverse thrust, to "flex" the tires and minimize the tailstrike risk that would exist if one were to apply the TRs directly from rest after the aircraft has been parked at the gate.

Actually the reason they move forward first is because airplanes after they sit a while develop flat spots so it is easier on the engines to move forward off the flat spot then apply reverse thrust..I was run/taxi on the DC-9 and powerbacked quite a few times off the gates in MEM.
 
Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:58 pm



Quoting Stratosphere (Reply 22):
Yep I am sure

Intriguing. Thanks, Stratosphere.
Jack @ AUS
 
AAR90
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:31 pm



Quoting Stratosphere (Reply 22):
Yep I am sure..They were the only airline I ever saw that did it with an aircraft that large

I've never done it with AA's B757s, but it was an authorized procedure for the first few years I flew that plane.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:58 pm



Quoting Western727 (Reply 20):


Quoting Stratosphere (Reply 3):
Eastern Airlines used to powerback a 757 off their gates

Are you sure??? I highly doubt this given the type of TR on the RRs (and PWs for that matter) on the 757.

I remember reading about Eastern B757s do powerbacks in many forums but.
As on date Powerback on B757 is NOT permitted.

regds
MEL.
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Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:50 pm



Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 25):
As on date Powerback on B757 is NOT permitted.

Why is that the case? FOD risk and/or otherwise? Or because of the reasons outlined in reply 20 above?
Jack @ AUS
 
rduoodl
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:34 am



Quoting Braniff747SP (Reply 18):
5 bucks + shipping if you bring me a safety card.

The safety info cards have been changed over to the DL version. But I happen to have box of the old NW cards (In like 8 different languages and in new condition) in my office. I know I have DC9-30/40/50, A320 and A320SR cards. I'm sure I can find the 757-200 if I dig around....let me know.
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stratosphere
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:37 am



Quoting Western727 (Reply 26):
As on date Powerback on B757 is NOT permitted.

Why is that the case? FOD risk and/or otherwise? Or because of the reasons outlined in reply 20 above?

It is pretty much because of FOD risk. High pypass engines kick up a lot of debris it is not a good idea to powerback with anything larger than a JT-8 or similar. Like a 727 or DC-9.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:56 am



Quoting Western727 (Reply 26):
Why is that the case? FOD risk and/or otherwise? Or because of the reasons outlined in reply 20 above?

On a high bypass wing mounted Powerplant,there is more cons in a powerback that pros.
FOD/Engine life reduction & tipping risk are a few.
regds
MEL.
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
jcs17
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:33 pm



Quoting Nwarooster (Reply 5):
and the debris that was thrown about

...and the workers comp claims that came from ground crew getting hit with FOD, as one of my friends did in FAR.
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Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:37 pm



Quoting Jcs17 (Reply 30):
as one of my friends did in FAR.

Ouch...what happened, if you don't mind sharing? I mean, was your friend a wingwalker at the time? What did s/he get hit with and what medical intervention did s/he need, etc.?

And I'm assuming it was a DC-9, given the location, right? Thanks in advance.
Jack @ AUS
 
jcs17
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:41 pm



Quoting Western727 (Reply 31):
Ouch...what happened, if you don't mind sharing? I mean, was your friend a wingwalker at the time? What did s/he get hit with and what medical intervention did s/he need, etc.?

I don't know the exact details aside from the fact that it was DC9, and his eye was hit by a pebble requiring emergency surgery. He recovered completely though.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
 
brons2
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:54 am



Quoting Jcs17 (Reply 32):
I don't know the exact details aside from the fact that it was DC9, and his eye was hit by a pebble requiring emergency surgery. He recovered completely though.

Was he wearing safety glasses??
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stratosphere
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:01 am



Quoting Brons2 (Reply 33):
Was he wearing safety glasses??

They are supposed to wear them...The worst thing I actually seen on a powerback was a ramp guy actually had his foot runover while a 727 was doing a powerback. I also one time was working on an engine I was on a ladder on a DC-9 across from a powerback gate...Well the marshaller should have powered him out and turned him so we didn't get jetblasted..Well he didn't and he powered it straight back and when the crew came out of reverse and applied thrust to move forward well I had already saw what was coming and got off the ladder and all our parts and the ladder went flying. I caught up with the ramp guy who powered him out and tore him a new one. You can never be too careful on the ramp..
 
beakerltn
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:36 pm

Just out of interest, how responsive is the powerback? - I mean do you floor it for 20 secs before yuou start to creep, or does it respond (fairly) instantly to the throttle control?
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Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:46 pm



Quoting BeakerLTN (Reply 35):
I mean do you floor it for 20 secs before yuou start to creep, or does it respond (fairly) instantly to the throttle control?

The engines are not "floored" for it is unnecessary.

From what I remember as a pax on the 727 and DC-9/MD-80, the engines would be started right at the gate. Then what felt like taxi thrust was applied to lurch the aircraft forward a few feet to alleviate flat spots in the tires. The brakes are then applied to stop the aircraft and T/R applied during brake hold. One can hear/feel the clamshells slamming shut (just a couple of seconds after stopping), immediately followed by brake release and throttle-up. IIRC, this part took only about 4-5 seconds before I detected reverse motion.

The aircraft then starts to powerback, speed depending on engine power (recall that the brakes cannot be used during powerback or else the aircraft may tip and experience an embarrassing tailstrike).

Once the aircraft has been powerbacked to the desired spot, the rampers signal the cockpit crew who then deactivates the T/R, the residual engine thrust serving to terminate the pushback (because, again, the brakes cannot be used while taxxing backwards). If the aircraft has taxi clearance, the thrust is used not only to terminate the reverse motion but to immediately start taxi, OR once reverse motion is terminated the brakes are applied once there is a slight forward movement and the aircraft holds until it is ready/cleared to taxi.
Jack @ AUS
 
Western727
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:02 pm

Addendum: here's a video that does a pretty good demonstration of the steps involved. Note the static location of the wingwalker out at a distance from the aircraft.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiRkA0xr96Y
Jack @ AUS
 
411A
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RE: Do Any Airlines Still Do Powerbacks?

Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:48 pm



Quoting KingFriday013 (Thread starter):
As the title asks, do any airlines still do powerbacks today (i.e., backing out of the gate only using reverse thrust)? I'm scheduled to fly a DC-9-30 DTW-LGA in a couple of weeks, and I was wondering if there was any chance I might get to experience one.

Very occasionally done at my company, by the Chief Pilot only.
Yours truly.

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