In another question, somebody asked why an airplane might not deploy thrust reversers on a landing. One of the answers suggested a few options, including:

Depending where the gate was, they may simply have wanted use more of the runway to speed up the taxi

It occurred to me that it's not just a matter of a pilot wanting to get to the gate sooner; it could be that ground control wants them to take that last exit (for whatever reason), but air traffic control wants them off the runway quickly so that they can use it for another airplane.

I assume the final decision of how to conduct the landing is the pilot's. But will air traffic control ever ask nicely, "you're going to be taking the last exit, but please don't do the final bit of braking until the end, because we'd like to get another flight taking off right after you land"?

  • $\begingroup$ Related $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Funny- my first reaction was: icy runway, so do everything carefully $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ At least in my experience, ATC won't ask for specific levels of braking, they'll ask you to exit at a certain taxiway, hold short of an intersection, &c. How that request is accomplished (and whether it can be) is up to the pilot. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:07

3 Answers 3


Yes, we can ask you to plan your landing roll in a certain way. We won't technically instruct you to brake the aircraft in a specific way, but simply to aim for a specific taxiway after landing.

There can be different reasons for this, but generally it is an attempt to expedite traffic flow on the ground at the airport. For example, if you are landing on a long runway and your parking position is near the far end of the runway, I might ask you to keep the plane rolling down the runway and vacate at the end, in order for you to have a shorter taxi time.

It could also be that the taxiway you would normally use to leave the runway is blocked by another aircraft or vehicle, and I want you to leave the runway via a taxiway that is further down the runway.

However, extending the landing roll does extend the runway occupancy time as well, so if there is another aircraft behind you on short final I will not offer you to perform a long landing roll. This is also why you should always ask ATC if you are planning to perform a long landing for one reason or the other – if we have someone else just a couple miles behind you, we might have to instruct them to go around if you do not vacate the runway like we expect you to.

With regards to reverse thrust specifically, there are airports where the use of reverse thrust is only permitted in special situations. This is to reduce the noise level at and around the airport. However, this is purely a regulatory thing, and is not actually related to ATC.

ICAO offers the following guidance on the subject (DOC 4444): When necessary or desirable in order to expedite traffic, a landing aircraft may be requested to:

a) hold short of an intersecting runway after landing;

b) land beyond the touchdown zone of the runway;

c) vacate the runway at a specified exit taxiway;

d) expedite vacating the runway. In requesting a landing aircraft to perform a specific landing and/or roll-out manoeuvre, the type of aircraft, runway length, location of exit taxiways, reported braking action on runway and taxiway, and prevailing meteorological conditions shall be considered. A HEAVY aircraft shall not be requested to land beyond the touchdown zone of a runway.


Situations vary, but more than once I have been asked to:

"Extend rollout to the end of the runway"

"Land long on the runway"

"Will you accept a landing after the half-way point on Runway 4, 6,000 feet remaining?"

Addendum #1 Heard yesterday, the tower telling a bizjet, while on 2 mi final, "123MA, cleared to land 27, taxi to end of the runway for left turn at Alpha."

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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate your answer. But determining acceptability of a runway length during dispatch is based on the aircraft landing within the touchdown zone. Touchdown beyond the "touchdown zone" of the runway (first 3000' or 1/3rd if shorter) is improper (ie wrong - go around should be initiated). I fully recognize that general aviation operations vs. Air carrier jet operations (e.g. part 121/135/125) are functionally more flexible. This means a "long landing" may be okay in a C172, but not okay in a B757(no matter what ATC requests) $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 1:32
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    $\begingroup$ @757toga Actually, ATC can instruct aircraft to land beyond the touchdown zone (not heavy aircraft, though). See my answer for details. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Johnny "b) land beyond the touchdown zone of the runway; " directly from J.Hougaards answer $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ @jhougaard. No question ICAO may have different ATC procedures. I was referring to US operations and, based on the "Thrust Reverser" comment, I was primarily commenting on Jets. But, either way, there is no question ATC can request anything they want. A light A/C can easily land beyond the Touchdown Zone. But, unless it was advertised in a NOTAM, for example, so it could be planned for before dispatch, a US Certificated Air Carrier would not accept a landing beyond the Touchdown Zone. Read the info in this link lessonslearned.faa.gov/… $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ All the land long instructions I have gotten from ATC have been in the form of "will you accept", with the exception of places already NOTAMed for landing long, like at the OSH airshow. Separately, I did not get the impression that this question was asked only in terms of air carrier ops. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:08

There are times that ATC can and does ask for the aircraft to turn off of the runway at a specific point. From the FAA Order 7110.65W, para. 3-10-9, the phraseology would be something like:


"IF ABLE, TURN LEFT/RIGHT at . . ." Taxiway Bravo;

Or, "Land and Hold Short Operations" (LAHSO), ref: para. 3-10-4 b. in the 7110.65W, the phraseology would be something like:

Cleared to Land "Hold Short of Runway" One Two.

A couple of points:

  1. Controllers should not/do not normally issue runway exiting or taxiing instructions prior to or immediately after touchdown (ref: 7110.65 para. 3-10-9 NOTE). Also, if ATC issues (using IF ABLE phraseology) taxiway or runway exiting instructions it is for expediting traffic and not to ensure legal separation will exist between airplanes. The legal separation (assuming normal operations) should exist in anticipation that the pilot might not be able to make an early turnoff.

  2. Normally LAHSO operations are advertised on the ATIS and are used during simultaneous/intersecting runway operations. There are various limits as to what type of aircraft can use the LAHSO and the pilot can always refuse to accept the clearance. If refused or the aircraft type is not authorized for LAHSO, ATC will ensure that no intersecting runway traffic will pose a confliction.

  3. Lastly, there are some times that the pilot will request to roll-out to the end of the runway, for example, to get to the aircraft's parking spot quicker. This would normally be a light aircraft and not an air carrier.

  4. You can read about these procedures: FAA Order 7110.65W can be found here

  • $\begingroup$ Hm, I think I'm asking about almost the opposite scenario. Rather than asking the pilot to turn off quickly, asking them to roll out to the end, but at a faster clip than the pilot might otherwise do. $\endgroup$
    – yshavit
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @yshavit - I don't think I've encountered the scenario in your comment above. I can't think of a benefit to ATC to have the aircraft stay on the runway, but hurry to the end. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 3:37
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    $\begingroup$ I recall ATC requesting long rollouts for operational reasons at LGW ~20 years ago when I was timing runway operations (operational research for capacity optimisation). My hazy recollection is that an issue/closure on one taxiway led to others getting congested. It really screwed up our data. $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ One scenario that I am given quite frequently is for ATC to state "long landing approved". At our air carrier home base, if we exit the runway further down than is strictly required by our aircraft performance, this enables us to arrive at our parking spot faster and avoid certain congested areas of the airport. Thus remaining on the runway longer is expeditious to all involved. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:17

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