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FAA Ends "Taxi To" Instruction, What Should Go Next?

In part of its on-going effort to reduce runway incursion incidents, the FAA will officially change the way tower controllers give taxi instructions. As of June 30, gone will be the "Taxi to" instruction to be replaced with a lot more words.

For example, if you fly out of Republic-Farmingdale (FRG) on Long Island, a standard taxi instruction from Ground is currently "(call sign) taxi to Runway 1". That instruction allows you to pretty much taxi on any taxiway and allows you to cross any runway- in this case Runway 32-14- to get to Runway 1. However, now the instruction will likely read "(call sign), Runway 1 via Gulf. Hold short of 32." Controllers will give specific taxi instructions and are required, generally, to issue an additional taxi instruction before you cross an intersecting runway.

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I suppose this is a good development, but I wonder if it increases the workload of on controllers. Also, how many pilots are aware of the changes? Unless you read the aviation press, the instructions may catch you off guard and you may end up crossing runways that, yesterday, you could cross, but today you'll get cited.

So this brings us to the next topic: What other phraseology should the FAA do away with?

My immediate nomination is the "Taxi Into Position and Hold" instruction. This should have been tossed years ago. Only the U.S. uses this instruction and pilots get confused by it.(though I'm not sure why). The Europeans use the more direct- and maybe less polite- "Line up and Wait" instruction. The FAA is considering moving to this phrase and it should. (When I went flying in New Zealand, I was told to "Line up and wait" and sat at the hold short line until the controller nudged my onto the runway.) On a more substantive issue, the TIPH instruction has always been controversial, as it puts an airplane with its back to final approach on a runway. Not where you want to be at a busy field.

Finally, the FAA is requiring air carrier operators to add an important addition to the pre-flight checklist: Make sure you're on the right runway. It's a good idea for all us pilots. Seems simple, but there are runway incursions every year where pilots taxi to the wrong runway and then try to take off. The advisory circular was issued years after a regional jet crashed in Lexington because the pilots tried to take off from the wrong runway- a runway that was too short. All but one person- the co-pilot- was killed.

Any other thoughts about changes in FAA-speak?

2 Responses to “FAA Ends "Taxi To" Instruction, What Should Go Next?”

  1. Andy Lewis Says:
    July 2nd, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    with regards to TIPH phraseology. You are correct with the Europeons. However, we have more traffic in the U.S. than all of the others combined. Why change our way of doing things when we are the safest (airspace) in the world.

  2. It's a good point-- but a 2005 FAA report on runway incursions noted 12% of them were attributed to pilots either misunderstanding the TIPH instruction or the controller forgetting he issued it. This doesn't necessarily mean a "line up and wait" instruction will fare better.

    Safety is increased when standards are adopted universally. With the number of foreign carriers in the U.S., this is a case where we should consider it and I believe the FAA will in fact soon make it official.

    With that said, I don't support giving barometric pressure in

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