Taxi to……

June 30, 2010 by Bruce Landsberg

Aircraft-Taxiing-02By now “everyone knows” that today (June 30, 2010) is the day a major change goes in to effect regarding taxi clearances. No longer will a “Taxi to Runway 30″ allow for crossing all runways prior to reaching the assigned runway for departure.

While it may not be published in your FAR/AIM for another year or two, this is a significant change to FAR 91.129(i). It is one of the few regs that I know by number.  In 1998 a runway safety committee I chaired recommended to FAA that the rule be changed to reduce the number of runway incursions.

Here is a link to our online course for runway safety and some additional changes to the phraseology relative to the rule.

Here’s what I like about the new approach: The red and white runway holding position  signs should be treated like stop signs.  Cross only when two conditions are met:

1) That you’ve received clearance to cross that specific runway.

2) That the runway is actually clear and safe to cross regardless of the clearance.

This seems so simple and yet pilots (especially GA pilots) continually have difficulty that results in more than our share of incursions. In a few words, distraction and complacency are often why. It’s something we can all work on.

Send me your thoughts below, and/or use the new web poll feature at right.

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • Malcolm J. Dryden

    No longer will a “Taxi to Runway 30″ allow for crossing all runways prior to reaching the assigned runway for departure.

    This is exactly what is NOT being taught at your very own AOPA ASF CFI Refresher clinics. I know because I just took one last weekend.

    What is actually being taught is that there is NO CHANGE to the FAR 91.129 (i). A clearance to “taxi to” the takeoff runway assigned to the aircraft is not a clearance to cross that assigned takeoff runway, or to taxi on that runway at any point, but is a clearance to cross other runways that intersect the taxi route to that assigned takeoff runway. A clearance to “taxi to” any point other than an assigned takeoff runway is clearance to cross all runways that intersect the taxi route to that point.

    If you receive this clearance, it STILL MEANS EXACTLY WHAT THE RULE SAYS..

    What is being taught is that CONTROLLERS MAY NO LONGER ISSUE THIS CLEARANCE WITHOUT A HOLD-SHORT INSTRUCTION FOR EACH RUNWAY FOLLOWED BY THE APPROPRIATE CROSSING CLEARANCE WHEN APPROPRIATE. Hence, the only change is a change in controller procedure, not a change in the FAR or the meaning of the clearance “Taxi to Runway XX”

    Your statement above, “No longer will a “Taxi to Runway 30″ allow for crossing all runways prior to reaching the assigned runway for departure.” seems to be incorrect.That specific clearance, if received, DOES mean you can crosss all runways except the active runway.

    The information I am reading on your website seems to indicate that a pilot is OBLIGATED to hold short of any runway that intersects his taxi path if he receives the clearance, “Taxi to Runway XX” I do not believe this is correct.

    What I believe to be true is that a controller must now change the clearance issued to the pilot to reflect the desire for the pilot to hold short of a runway. This is a change of controller procedure only, and not a change to the FAR.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • Rex

    I sure hope somebody get this together on which is proper way if there multi runways to get to ur take off spot……why i like small airports..

  • Bruce Landsberg


    Thanks for your response. You are correct that the FAR has not yet changed — It’s coming.

    The clearance, “ Taxi to Rwy 30” is an improper clearance, certainly on one count, because ATC must now specify a route. Secondly, controllers must always provide instructions to cross any intersecting runway or to hold short. It would be an improper clearance, if there were any intersecting runways.

    The bottom line is that whether an aircraft is inbound or outbound, controllers are required to issue a specific clearance for each and every runway crossed or operated on.

    If in doubt about whether to cross a runway, always stop and ask! From a safety perspective the correct thing to do is to stop – The regulation will be changed to address so that BOTH controllers and pilots are responsible for insuring positive instructions one way or the other.

    Here is the exact wording for the controllers guidance 7110.65

    “c. Aircraft/vehicles must receive a runway crossing clearance for each runway that their taxi route
    crosses. An aircraft/vehicle must have crossed a previous runway before another runway crossing clearance
    may be issued.
    NOTE: A runway crossing clearance is required to cross or operate on any active/inactive or closed runway.”

    Unless you’ve been specifically cleared we recommend treating the red and white runway entrance sign as a stop sign,


    This is actually an improvement to the old rules and you might consider operating at a less busy towered airport to get the hang of it. Take a CFI along and when you try it yourself the first time, ask for Progressive Taxi Instructions.

    Whenever I an even slightly uncertain on a taxi instruction I always ask for progressive – never had a controller refuse or get upset.

    This can be done by mere mortals.

  • Al Vecchio

    Where is this in the regs? I have a classroom instructor at a major aviation university that is teaching the wrong thing and I need the official fed reg. It is not changed in the FAR on the FAA website.