Should Tower handle crossing or Ground

August, 9, 2021 by

A recent trend I’m seeing a lot recently is that Tower is asking Ground to send all runway crossings to Tower, which is backing up the airport unnecessarily.

  1. That’s fine in certain situations but in most it’s unnecessary.
  2. Be flexible and if you see an opening just message Tower saying “cross runway blah?” “cross”

At an airport like KLAX with aircraft landing on 25L, perfectly normal and fine for Tower to be in charge of crossing. That’s kind of rare that it’s normal, but it is at airports like KLAX. With aircraft landing on 24R and 24L and CYUL, not so much, should stay with ground. This is the more normal scenario.

Sure, is it easier on the controller to have Tower do all the work, yes. You have to realize though a few things.

It’s significantly more work for the pilot. With Tower only issuing crossing, they have to ask to cross on Ground, get handed off to Tower, ask for cross again, respond to the cross, then handoff again as they are exiting the runway, to hen continue taxiing. As opposed to Ground handling crossing where they simply just need to ask to cross, cross, then continue.

To add on to that, in between those handoffs they have to watch for the conflicts Ground is missing so they don’t get reported because ground isn’t getting them, because they are with Tower. Tower can’t issue give way commands.

In my mind this is a really lazy approach that looks good on paper, but in practice it’s really in efficient and adds to the pilot’s workload. I’ve seen it on several occasions completely back up an airport.

As a ground controller, all you have to do when tagging with a tower controller is to tag the controller saying “can I cross”, a few seconds after they’ll say “cross”. Simple, clear. No work for the pilot for two seconds of communication between Tower and Ground. Plus, you have a second tool, your eyes. Use your eyes and just cross them when there is a clear window to cross.

Tower should not be focused on crossing runways. They’re responsible for aircraft landing and taking off. Ground should be worried about what’s happening on the ground, go figure.

If it’s slowing down the airport for Tower to handle crossings and causing issues on the ground like blocked exits and unnecessary delays, then it’s not working and it needs to be changed. If the airport is fine then fine, but it’s added work for the pilot for the sake of the controller.

Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More