Suppose you are the captain of Big Jet 345:

Big Jet 345, behind landing Boeing 757, line up runway 27, behind

Behind landing Boeing 757, line up runway 27, behind, Big Jet 345

Now suppose the landing Boeing 757 executes a go-around. Does the conditional clearance allow you to line up and wait after the Boeing 757 flies over the touchdown point?

  • $\begingroup$ Note: This question pertains to international/ICAO (non-US) procedures. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden Dec 12 '14 at 23:11

This may sound obvious, but you should probably ask ATC.

In the sentence given it specifies that you should line up behind the Landing B757, not the Going Around B757. This sounds pedantic, but the situation has changed.

The chances are the ATC is still expecting you to be the next aircraft on the tarmac, but if you're in any doubt whatsoever, do not put your aircraft on a live runway (or anywhere else you can reasonably expect another aircraft to want to be in the next 5 minutes) without explicit, unambiguous permission.

  • $\begingroup$ Or unless you have an emergency. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Dec 12 '14 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ Even in an emergency I'd still inform control of what's happening which is usually phrased as a request but never treated like one. If you declare an emergency and then ask for a runway, you get it unless it's physically impossible $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Dec 12 '14 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ Asking ATC is a prudent course of action. But does the clearance authorize you to enter the runway? I'm guessing it happens pretty frequently. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Dec 12 '14 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ Probably not as frequently as you'd expect - airliners don't do that many go-arounds, and most major airports (ones busy enough to need to line the next plane up ASAP) use separate arrival and departure runways. The point is that the clearance is, by definition, ambiguous, and you should therefore check. $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Dec 12 '14 at 23:36

Europe Answer

In some non-US jurisdictions (such as the UK) it is allowable to issue conditional LUAWs, so the possibility exists that you would have a go-around of the landing aircraft.

I do not fly in Europe, but I assume that you normally only move onto the runway AFTER the landing aircraft has touched down. If the aircraft does not touch down (go around), then the LUAW condition is never met, so you do not move onto the runway. The controller would have to issue another LUAW (or departure clearance).

United States Answer

The example given is not a valid ATC instruction in the United States. A U.S. ATC should NEVER make a "conditional" LUAW. If a tower gives such an instruction, I would confirm it without the illegal conditional. If I heard a tower routinely making conditional LUAWs I would report it, because it is dangerous and a huge violation of FAA departure procedures.

You never line up and wait on the same runway which another aircraft is in the process of landing on, so the "go around" scenario should never happen. If, by some bizarre miscommunication, you think ATC is telling you to LUAW on a runway and you see another aircraft in the process of landing on that runway, you should say "[callsign] holding on [intersection] at [runway #], landing traffic in sight".

Note that it is dangerous and a serious separation violation for a controller to issue a LUAW when another aircraft is cleared to land on the same runway. If you hear a controller issuing such LUAW it should be reported immediately. Any landing aircraft must be landed and on the ground before a LUAW is given to a departing aircraft on the same runway.

If a plane is on long final (but has not been cleared to land), and you are given a LUAW on the same runway, the controller MUST inform you of the other aircraft and how far out they are. You may opt to refuse the LUAW based on that information. Under no circumstances will the other aircraft be granted a landing clearance, until you are off the ground.

If you are unclear about phraseology, you may want to review FAA Departure Procedures.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 this is valid ICAO phraseology $\endgroup$ – Hugh Dec 12 '14 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ No intersection is necessary. If you are at the hold bar, it is pretty obvious at which intersection you will enter the runway. The runway itself needs to be mentioned. FAA source: faa.gov/airports/runway_safety/news/current_events/lauw $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Dec 12 '14 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima I have updated my answer to remove the intersection-related comment, since it is irrelevant to the main question anyway. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden Dec 12 '14 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ You are right about the FAA's restriction on the conditional part. See 3-9-4 of this document. I am not aware of this restriction under generic ICAO guidelines. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Dec 12 '14 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ In Europe you don't have to wait for the AC to touch down, just pass your position. As soon as it's by you can line up and wait. $\endgroup$ – GdD Dec 13 '14 at 8:34

Whether you are a jet or light aircraft the procedure is the same where conditional lining up is permitted. If an aircraft announces they are going around it's not a landing, so it would not constitute clearance to line up. If you think about it an aircraft may announce a go-around before they reach the threshold, and if you line up there's a potential conflict if the aircraft on approach has an emergency.

Also, remember you can refuse a clearance if you're not happy with it. Call ATC and ask for instructions, never assume!

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    $\begingroup$ The question clearly says "after the Boeing 757 flies over the touchdown point". Then you can't create conflict any more. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Dec 12 '14 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ How do you know why a go-around was called? Maybe they broke off the approach because someone got ahead of them. You're better off staying put and asking for instructions. $\endgroup$ – GdD Dec 12 '14 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ @GdD: bear in mind that it's only a Line-Up and Wait clearance, not a takeoff clearance, that's being issued in this hypothetical case. So the risk of a collision is pretty low. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Dec 13 '14 at 0:58

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