“Hold Short of Runway 23!”

by John Krug on July 2, 2010

hold short of runwayHow many times as a pilot, have we heard that phrase? Well, as of June 30th we will be hearing it a lot more. The FAA instituted a change to the Air Traffic Controller’s handbook (the 7110.65) that changes the way taxi instructions are issued. Previously, a taxi clearance (as we all know from the FAA written test questions) allowed a pilot to cross all runways except the assigned departure runway. The new procedure requires the ground controller to issue a specific clearance to cross every runway along the taxi route. This includes closed and inactive runways.

You may not enter a runway unless you have been instructed to cross that specific runway; cleared to take off from that runway; or instructed to position and hold on that specific runway.

The irony is that this change will probably increase the number of reported runway incursions, at least temporarily. For years, the FAA taught us to approach a closed or inactive runway, look both ways, turn on the exterior lighting and taxi across the runway because we were not told to hold short. That action will now be classified as a runway incursion and may earn us a chat with a FSDO inspector.

What can we do to help us adapt to this change? The first action should be to get out the taxi chart. Even at your home base or an airport that you go to frequently. Look at your usual taxi routes and identify the spots that will now require a runway crossing clearance. Verbalize the taxi route to yourself if single pilot, or in a crew brief. “OK, we are planning Runway 31 via Sierra, Alpha and expecting to receive instructions to hold short of Runway 23 on Alpha. If we do not get the clearance, we will stop on Alpha and query Ground” This will help us to change the mindset of being cleared across all runways that we encounter instead of expecting to hold short.

It will also be even more important to stay outside the cockpit and stay focused on the task of taxiing. Programming the GPS, running checklists, even chatting with passengers are all distractions that are easily controlled. If your passengers are talking to you while taxiing, try using the “Isolate” function found on many audio panels. This should be part of the pre taxi passenger briefing – Tell your passengers that you are not being rude but you have to pay attention to the radio and will be back to them after takeoff.

This change will also increase radio traffic making it even more important for us to listen carefully. Previously, a controller could issue one transmission to clear an aircraft to taxi along a lengthy route. Now, for example, if you are taxiing to a departure runway and must cross three runways to get there, you must stop at each runway intersection and wait for clearance from a controller before proceeding. Three runways means you must receive three separate crossing instructions. In addition, the aircraft must have cleared the previous runway before another crossing clearance can be issued. Each one of the runway crossing clearances will have to be transmitted to and acknowledged by the pilot. Expect and plan for delays at busy airports.

Use whatever aids that you have to help with ground navigation. Even though I fly aircraft with GPS and moving map displays, I still like an 8 ½ X 11 printout of the airport diagram in hand. I print out the diagram in advance and write or draw the taxi clearance right on the chart. Toss it when you are done.

And if you do mess up, file a NASA ASRS report.

Fly safe.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Blake November 30, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I just came across this today, I actually did this today at (SRQ) ATC told me to taxi to 32 via A D taxiway so that’s what. I did not stop at 4-22 because I was cleared to taxi to 32 after I did that he called and said he told me to hold short but i am 90% sure he did not but if he did I obviously did nit hear him nor write down hold short of 4-22 ATC told me to call them when I landed at Tampa executive so I did and he told me about this new rule, but instill have a hard time believing he told me t hold short he said he got all my info and told me he would pass it to ATC management then they would choose to send it to FSDO. I’m freaking out I have never done anything wrong knock on wood but whats going to happen to me.? What’s the worst thing that can happen?

Captain Ken Wood July 12, 2010 at 11:26 am

Dear John,

You guys in the USA are getting a taste of what it’s been like for some years now in the European single skies under the CAA control. We have of course three types of ATC, A/G No instructions to be given at any time, although that is NOT the case if an incident is seen in the making, AFISO, Aircraft Flight Information Service, and full ATC Air Traffic Control, full instructions within controlled airspace. That’s changed slightly recently in the CAA to a basic service outside of Controlled Airspace, or Flight Information Service dependant upon flight conditions, VFR, VMC, IR etc.

I wish you well fellow pilots. I love my flying and worked with United Tech. (Pratt & Whitney) in the States between ’79 & ’99 for Europe The Middle & Far east out of Changhi Singapore. best years of my life.

I wish you all greetings from the UK, come & see us sometime in the heart of England – Shropshire at a WW2 airfield Sleap…..pronounced Slape!

Good flying all,
Best wishes
Ken Wood
ID 208581790

larry Olson July 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm


Good post, especially about keeping a paper airport diagram and drawing the taxi route. Works well.

I’ve been fortunate and my SOP for the Baron has been to verify ANY runway crossing, regardless of clearance. Although, I’ve been scolded occasionally because it isn’t necessary, my response is “that’s company policy”…… Another though, if anyone in the front two seats has any doubt on the taxi or hold short clearance we verify it from ground. I’m fortunate to almost always have a copilot, a valuable asset in this situation.

Another tool, especially at a big airport, is to ask for progressives…. and I still do that in a GA plane, regardless of how many times I’ve been there. It’s just one more set of eyes to keep us from screwing up…..

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