In a smaller airport which still handles large commercial aircraft (i.e. Princess Juliana Int. Airport (TNCM), Robert L. Bradshaw Int. Airport (TKPK), etc.), what are the taxi instructions given? I don't want to just assume that an airliner would be given a taxi and hold short, but that is what I would expect.

Here is a diagram of Bradshaw Airport,

Image Copyright Acronautic
Copyright, Acronautic

Let's say our commercial airliner is taking off from Runway 07. They get a Taxi To and Hold Short instruction preparatory to Cleared To Takeoff. Do they taxi to the end of ramp A and hold short? or do they go all the way to the turn around at the end of 07?

If it's the end of A, what instruction allows then to enter and use the runway as a taxiway?


2 Answers 2


A is a taxiway, not the ramp. It will have stop bars and signs at the end. Here, the double solid lines are on the taxiway side and must not be crossed without clearance.

If the instruction is hold short, you hold at the end of Alpha.

NB. An active runway is never a taxiway. The clearances and instructions are for runways, even when backtracking.

The initial clearance will likely be:

Taxi via Alpha, hold short runway 07.

Followed by

Line up runway 07 via backtrack and wait.

Then finally:

cleared for take-off runway 07

The initial clearance might combine the first 2.

Taxi via alpha, line up runway 07 via backtrack and wait

Note that the runway designator is always the departure runway so enter 25 and backtrack would not be used.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell -- Nota Bene -- it's not a pilot thing, just a writing thing :) $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2015 at 15:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell NB is Latin, nothing to do with flying :-) en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nota_bene $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Sep 13, 2015 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Backtrack is used by ICAO and Backtaxi is used by FAA, they mean the same (to travel on the runway in use in the oposite direction). Beware for in aviation the term backtrack has an implied clearance for 180º turn. i.e. An airfield with a single twy access to the rwy at midfield. If a landing a/c has roled past midfield, he has missed his exit twy. If ATC clears you to "vacate rwy backtrack approved", then you are cleared for 180º turn and taxi back on the rwy until you reach exiting twy. $\endgroup$
    – ATC Mojo
    Jan 11, 2017 at 20:47

If they're given a "hold short" instruction, then they don't enter the runway. That's sacrosanct, since it's what protects the runway from an incursion if an aircraft will soon be using the runway to land or take off.

The instruction to enter the runway but not take off is "line up and wait," and to go back the length of Runway 7 and turn around is to "back taxi" (FAA term) or "backtrack" (ICAO term, same meaning) on the runway.

So let's say that an inbound aircraft has landed, and is past (northeast of) taxiway A but is still on the runway. The aircraft ready to depart can be cleared onto runway 7 to back taxi (or "backtrack"), line up and wait -- but the tower wouldn't issue a takeoff clearance until the entire runway is clear. But this clearance gets the departing aircraft moving toward the position he wants to be in, and by the time the back taxi is complete, the runway will probably be clear, so a takeoff clearance can be issued at that point.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is back taxi a recognised phrase? I've only ever read it and heard it as back track. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Sep 13, 2015 at 14:21
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In the USA, I've only heard it as back taxi. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Sep 13, 2015 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ The PCG has back-taxi but not backtrack. faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media/PCG_4-03-14.pdf#19 $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2015 at 3:38
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    $\begingroup$ @DougMcClean I've obviously spent too much time on various SE sites, I read PCG as Programming Code Golf... $\endgroup$
    – IanF1
    Sep 14, 2015 at 13:17

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