Commonly confused commands

January, 7, 2022 by

I recently got out of a session at KSFO, and I have been noticing that pilots do not necessarily know what some of the commands we use mean. I will attempt to explain what some of the most often confused commands mean.

The most common one that pilots mix up are hold short and line up and wait. In some instances I’ve been experiencing lately, pilots think that line up and wait means to get into the departure queue and hold short of the runway. What it really means is that you need to line up on the runway and be ready for takeoff.

3.2.3 — LUAW is a useful tool to have an aircraft on the runway ready for an imminent departure once separation rules are satisfied (see 3.1). But anticipated separation should also be taken into account, especially with departure / departure sequences. If the first aircraft is already rolling, ask yourself how long it will take the second aircraft to line up on the runway and commence their take-off roll. If the assumption can be made that the first aircraft will be airborne, then you can save yourself the extra command and just clear the next aircraft for take-off, however consideration should be given to the expected climb speed of the preceding aircraft (see 3.1.1). Controllers can issue the LUAW command to more than one aircraft provided it will not compromise the integrity of the first aircraft that is due to depart.

The second command that is most commonly confused is the give way command. Give way in it’s simplest terms means to let the aircraft pass. That may require you to stop or just simply slow down. You can and should continue taxiing once the conflict is over, there is no need to wait for a continue taxi command. That is the beauty of that command. It lightens the ground controller’s workload because it delegates that responsibility to the pilots.

Last one, you must not switch frequencies without permission. Wait for permission. We often need to keep you on frequency for a specific reason. For example, if Approach wants to send speed commands to two aircraft both cleared for an approach for the same runway they may keep both aircraft on frequency before sending them to tower so they can ensure adequate separation is met.

Neel M is a contributor for the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Specialist and is currently training to become an Officer. He lives in Texas with a home airport of KIAH.