by Jonathan M. Stern
Ground Control is a controller in the tower cab whose responsibility it is to instruct all aircraft on the movement area of the airport. After clearance delivery has issued the clearance to the flight, its corresponding flight progress strip is passed to the ground controller. Thus, when a pilot radios the ground controller, the ground controller already knows the aircraft's route of flight and can assign an appropriate runway for that route, depending on which runways are available and the wind and weather conditions then prevailing.
Surface winds are an important factor in runway selection. A headwind decreases the takeoff roll, because the headwind component is airspeed before the aircraft even begins rolling. Conversely, a tailwind increases the length of the takeoff roll. The precise effect of the headwind or tailwind on the length of runway required for takeoff and landing can be calculated using the performance data published in the Pilot Operating Handbook.
It is the pilot-in-command's responsibility to determine whether the assigned runway is suitable for the flight's use. Runway length requirements vary with wind direction and velocity; passenger, fuel, and cargo loading; runway surface and condition; and ambient temperature, pressure, and humidity. Only the flight crew is in a position to determine the required runway length. When pilots determine that the runway assigned by ATC is unsuitable, they must inform ATC that they require a different runway.
When the crew is ready to begin taxiing, taxi clearance is requested:
"Pittsburgh Ground Control, Lear 12345 requests taxi for takeoff."
"Lear 12345, Pittsburgh Ground, taxi to runway two-eight right."
"Lear 12345, roger, taxi runway two-eight right."
The ground controller's instruction authorizes the aircraft to taxi to runway 28R. An instruction to taxi to a runway without restrictions is an authorization to cross all runways that the taxi route may intersect except the assigned runway. Accordingly, if it were necessary to cross any runways to get to Runway 28R, this clearance would include permission to cross any such runways. The ground controller must coordinate runway crossings with the local controller.
After taxiing to the departure runway, the pilot performs the Before Takeoff checklist. This ensures that the aircraft is properly configured for takeoff, both in terms of aircraft performance and navigation. Aircraft checklists for the Flight Simulator Cessna 182RG are contained in Appendix D.
Example: "Cessna N2001Z, Washington Ground. Taxi runway three six via Charlie. Hold short of runway three." (See Figure 11.1.)
Figure 11.1. The ground controller instructs aircraft on their taxi routes.