Switch from ground to tower

ahmad

Pre-takeoff checklist
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Midwest Aviator
Question. Seems simple, but I am confused. When are you supposed to contact tower after ground gives you taxi instructions. Usually, I taxi with the ground frequency tuned in until I reach the hold short line. once there, I switch to the tower (unprompted). This is what I see happen all the times. However, the books I'm reading say I should contact the tower once instructed by the ground to do so. HELP!
 
Perhaps you can tell us which book(s) say that and exactly what they say.

Some airports ask you to switch early. If you reach the runway there is no reason to wait for them to tell you to switch and they're probably not going to.
 
In 10 years of flying IFR, I have never once been told by Ground to switch to Tower. I taxi and runup with Ground, then make my ready-for-departure call to tower when I get to the (queue of planes at the) hold short line.
 
The private pilot guide for the oral exam by Gleim says while taxiing towards the runway for take off you should contact tower only when told to do so by the ground. This is not what I have been doing, nor do I think anyone else does it. Chances are I won't be asked this question during the exam but I still hate ambiguity.
 
Just to add further confusion, some want you to let them know in and out of the run-up area and some don't. Best bet at an unfamiliar airport is to ask.
 
Just to add further confusion, some want you to let them know in and out of the run-up area and some don't. Best bet at an unfamiliar airport is to ask.



That's not confusing. I'd probably inform them that the run up is complete and now I am taxiing further. Probably a good practice for safety purposes.
 
That's not confusing. I'd probably inform them that the run up is complete and now I am taxiing further. Probably a good practice for safety purposes.
Except I got chewed out for doing that (asking to leave the run-up) at an unfamiliar airport. The real issue is if leaving the run-up gets in the way of an IFR departure taxiing out that might miss a release slot. Think that's why it might be different at some airports.
 
The private pilot guide for the oral exam by Gleim says while taxiing towards the runway for take off you should contact tower only when told to do so by the ground. This is not what I have been doing, nor do I think anyone else does it. Chances are I won't be asked this question during the exam but I still hate ambiguity.

Gleim is a joke. They thought HS-1 on an airport diagram meant "Hold Short 1".
 
The runup area is a non-movement area. At some airports they want you to switch to tower after runup and taxi to the hold short line. At others, they want you to call ground before leaving the runup area. There must be some standard for this (leaving a non-movement area to a movement area) but it has eluded me so far.
 
Just to add further confusion, some want you to let them know in and out of the run-up area and some don't. Best bet at an unfamiliar airport is to ask.
i was taught to do the run-up in an out-of-the way portion of the ramp in the non-movement area. the idea was to speed up the line waiting to depart. when i was ready to taxi i’d contact ground and then monitor ground during the taxi. i’d switch to twr without prompting and only when I was ready to take the active and depart.
 
Not sure where Gleim is getting that from. On landing, you should remain up tower until told to contact ground. In departing, you switch to tower when ready for take off clearance.

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Have never been told to switch to tower. Have been asked if I’m going to need a run up before takeoff.
 
Have never been told to switch to tower. Have been asked if I’m going to need a run up before takeoff.
It happens frequently at busy, larger airports. Particularly when the airport has multiple tower frequencies. Not so much as smaller towered airports.

The airport can't expect you to do anything other than what the AIM recommends unless they inform pilots of their procedures through the airport notes, ATIS remarks, airport taxiway signs, etc. If they fail to tell you differently, they can't fault you for following the AIM.
 
The default rule is to switch to tower when you're done with your runup and holding short.

IF there is a local procedure that is different, then the airport/ATC needs to make you aware of it. There is an airport in Tulsa (RVS) that has a local rule requiring you to, during certain times, call ground when finished with your runup. This is because they have a lot of flight school traffic there. BUT they advertise this fact on the ATIS for transient pilots. And they'd have to - how else is someone supposed to know? In absence of any instructions like that, call the tower when ready - if they have an issue with that, well they should have put it on the ATIS (or in the AFD, etc.).
 
I switch to tower once I'm in the run-up area, or otherwise at the hold short bars ready for departure unless advised otherwise

At LAX I was asked to switch to tower but monitor ground pretty much immediately upon getting my taxi instructions from Signature

What I get more confused about is what to do after vacating the runway. 9/10 tower will either give me the direct taxi instructions or ask me to switch to ground but sometimes when they're busy I don't hear anything.. after what feels like an awkwardly long time I'll switch to ground and just ask there..
 
What I get more confused about is what to do after vacating the runway. 9/10 tower will either give me the direct taxi instructions or ask me to switch to ground but sometimes when they're busy I don't hear anything.. after what feels like an awkwardly long time I'll switch to ground and just ask there..
The AIM also has specific guidance for that. And, it's not your fault if the controllers are expecting something else.
 
Here’s a couple local variations. Hillsboro KHIO. Ground doesn’t taxi you ‘to’ the Runway. They taxi you to the ‘RW## run up area.’ You’ll need further taxi ‘to the RW’ when ready. When you get that, then you call the Tower. Unless they say stay with me which happens sometimes because Ground is helping the Tower manage frequency congestion. Santa Barbara KSBA Ground would taxi you to the runway but they’d often say call me before leaving run up.
 
Question. Seems simple, but I am confused. When are you supposed to contact tower after ground gives you taxi instructions. Usually, I taxi with the ground frequency tuned in until I reach the hold short line. once there, I switch to the tower (unprompted). This is what I see happen all the times. However, the books I'm reading say I should contact the tower once instructed by the ground to do so. HELP!
I don't know where you saw that. Perhaps a screenshot would help. As the AIM indicates, the default is to switch to Tower at or as you approach the hold short line unless told otherwise. There are airports where you will be told otherwise. At some, Ground will tell you to switch to Tower while you are taxiing. At some, ATIS will tell you not to switch to Tower at all unless and until Ground tells you to (yes, you are really supposed to listen to ATIS).
 
Have never been told to switch to tower. Have been asked if I’m going to need a run up before takeoff.
You need to get out more :D.

It's very common at airports with lots of airline and other jet traffic to be told by Ground to switch to Tower while taxiing. If there are multiple runways, sometimes Tower and Ground will split areas of control with Tower controlling taxiways which go between and among the runways. The there are the 2 or 3 airports where after startup, you never switch to Tower unless and until you are told to.

Fortunately, it's not difficult. All you have to do is listen and avoid assuming that the procedure you are used to universal and can never be varied by ATC.
 
Here’s a couple local variations. Hillsboro KHIO. Ground doesn’t taxi you ‘to’ the Runway. They taxi you to the ‘RW## run up area.’ You’ll need further taxi ‘to the RW’ when ready. When you get that, then you call the Tower. Unless they say stay with me which happens sometimes because Ground is helping the Tower manage frequency congestion. Santa Barbara KSBA Ground would taxi you to the runway but they’d often say call me before leaving run up.
Another variation. This one is on ATIS ...
Link to short audio
 
When I was going in and out of KSAT ever so often, Ground would have me stay with them all the way to the hold short line. The instruction after runup was taxi to the hold short line and then contact Tower on.... Sometimes when traffic was almost zero, they would have me switch to Tower before I even got to the runup area.
 
Another variation. This one is on ATIS ...
Link to short audio
A variation on your variation: A couple of the busier airports I've been to, it's part of the taxi instructions rather than the ATIS. For example:
  • "Bigplace ground, Bugsmasher 123ab, at fuel island with ATIS info Delta, request taxi to RWY10, VFR departure to the east."
  • "Smasher 3ab, Bigplace ground, taxi 10 via Charlie, Alpha, cross 26 at Alpha, advise run-up complete."
I've always interpreted "advise run-up complete" as meaning "don't go over to tower until I say so". Later on, it's:
  • "BP ground, 3ab, run-up complete"
  • "3ab, BP ground, contact tower, advise them you are VFR"
From there, I taxi from run-up to the hold-short line switching over to tower somewhere along the way. However, sometimes they reply "3ab, BP ground, hold position, contact tower" or the dreaded "standby".

Another funny thing is that a few times, they tell the folks in front of me to "advise run-up complete", skip that instruction for me, and then tell the folks behind me to "advise run-up complete". In that case, I just switch over to tower in the blind after my run-up.
 
The runup area is a non-movement area.

This is actually the source of the confusion. IME, very few airports actually have the runup area properly marked as a non-movement area, but ground wants it treated as such. Usually, the ATIS, Chart Supplement, or airport signage will have a note about who they want you to contact and when, but it is far from standardized.
 
A variation on your variation: A couple of the busier airports I've been to, it's part of the taxi instructions rather than the ATIS. For example:
  • "Bigplace ground, Bugsmasher 123ab, at fuel island with ATIS info Delta, request taxi to RWY10, VFR departure to the east."
  • "Smasher 3ab, Bigplace ground, taxi 10 via Charlie, Alpha, cross 26 at Alpha, advise run-up complete."
I've always interpreted "advise run-up complete" as meaning "don't go over to tower until I say so". Later on, it's:
  • "BP ground, 3ab, run-up complete"
  • "3ab, BP ground, contact tower, advise them you are VFR"
From there, I taxi from run-up to the hold-short line switching over to tower somewhere along the way. However, sometimes they reply "3ab, BP ground, hold position, contact tower" or the dreaded "standby".

Another funny thing is that a few times, they tell the folks in front of me to "advise run-up complete", skip that instruction for me, and then tell the folks behind me to "advise run-up complete". In that case, I just switch over to tower in the blind after my run-up.
Plenty of places where it's done by Ground. And much more variation than that. I mentioned this one because it's standard - it's been been on the ATIS there for more than 30 years. I think there were two other airports that did it. One was Orlando Executive (I don't think they do it any more). And I think the other was in Texas somewhere, but not sure.
 
This is actually the source of the confusion. IME, very few airports actually have the runup area properly marked as a non-movement area, but ground wants it treated as such. Usually, the ATIS, Chart Supplement, or airport signage will have a note about who they want you to contact and when, but it is far from standardized.
Even where it's marked, I've seen signs. I suspect they put those up where they have had problems with pilots not realizing that once they leave the movement area they need a new taxi clearance. If it's not marked, then there should be somewhen advising pilots to call Ground before leaving the runup area.
 
Even where it's marked, I've seen signs. I suspect they put those up where they have had problems with pilots not realizing that once they leave the movement area they need a new taxi clearance. If it's not marked, then there should be somewhen advising pilots to call Ground before leaving the runup area.

The problem is the lack of correct ground markings. We just had a lot of our airport repainted with better - though still not completely correct - painted markings. If you look at Google map images of a number of airports where you know that ground control treats the runup area as a non-movement area, you'll see that a lot of them do not have a non-movement area marked, or use a non-standard marking.
 
Not sure where Gleim is getting that from. In departing, you switch to tower when ready for take off clearance.

I >believe< that if you exit the movement area after receiving a taxi clearance, you are technically required to get a clearance from ground to re-enter the movement area. I have no documentation to support this. Just a conversation with a controller many years ago.

At PDK, for example, they have signage in the runup area telling you to contact ground before leaving the non-movement area. At its neighbor airport, LZU, controllers don't want to hear from you until you at the hold short line.
 
I >believe< that if you exit the movement area after receiving a taxi clearance, you are technically required to get a clearance from ground to re-enter the movement area. I have no documentation to support this. Just a conversation with a controller many years ago.

At PDK, for example, they have signage in the runup area telling you to contact ground before leaving the non-movement area. At its neighbor airport, LZU, controllers don't want to hear from you until you at the hold short line.

Yeah, “unless otherwise authorized by tower…” Local procedures might dictate otherwise. You can also call for your take off clearance from tower in the run up area. There’s your permission to go back into the movement area.

Point being, Gleim shouldn’t be teaching technique from different airports. The AIM is clear in its guidance.
 
I >believe< that if you exit the movement area after receiving a taxi clearance, you are technically required to get a clearance from ground to re-enter the movement area. I have no documentation to support this. Just a conversation with a controller many years ago.
The support is that you are in a non-movement area doing your own thing and wanting to go into a movement area. Exactly the same documentation that requires one to get a taxi clearance from anywhere else.
 
The private pilot guide for the oral exam by Gleim says while taxiing towards the runway for take off you should contact tower only when told to do so by the ground. This is not what I have been doing, nor do I think anyone else does it. Chances are I won't be asked this question during the exam but I still hate ambiguity.

The bold text says while taxiing towards the runway, which I guess could be interpreted before you actually get to the runway (which would be the hold short line). Nit picking, but maybe that is what Gleim was trying to convey?
 
In 10 years of flying IFR, I have never once been told by Ground to switch to Tower. I taxi and runup with Ground, then make my ready-for-departure call to tower when I get to the (queue of planes at the) hold short line.

I got it this week at ONT. We were about 2000 feet from the end of the runway when ground told us to monitor tower. We used to fly into PHX and got it also. Probably other airports that I do not remember.
 
In 10 years of flying IFR, I have never once been told by Ground to switch to Tower. I taxi and runup with Ground, then make my ready-for-departure call to tower when I get to the (queue of planes at the) hold short line.
Come visit KAPA Centennial, Co. Ground will tell you when to switch to tower. It’s on the ATIS, too.
 
Come visit KAPA Centennial, Co. Ground will tell you when to switch to tower. It’s on the ATIS, too.

It's on the ATIS because it's not a normal procedure.
 
This was actually something I had to get used to, during the transition from mil flying to 121. In the mil, at least at fighter bases, you are generally told to switch to tower, but conversely, you auto switch to ground when off the active (without tower prompting you) after landing. At pretty much every major airport I've flown from in the airlines, it is the exact opposite, at least during busy hours. You can always ask, but I'd submit that if you have passed the last taxiway intersection in your journey to the runway, and you are not at the tail end of a long line of traffic, tower is probably a safe bet.
 
It's on the ATIS because it's not a normal procedure.
Right. That's the whole idea.

Although I do hesitate calling something used at an airport as it's SOP for more than 30 years not normal ;)
 
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