I was next in line (making IFR departure) just after a Bonanza departed, with about a dozen aircraft behind me. Tower called my number and said "pull up and be ready". I'm accustomed to "line up and wait", changed from the old "position and hold", so I was expecting "line up and wait". We're always taught to get clarification if we don't understand, but the tower guy seemed disgusted with me for asking, as if "pull up and be ready" is "duh"... standard phraseology. I've never heard it before, or since, so am I needing to study the AIM a little bit more?
After the fact, I can guess that he meant, "Pull up to the runway hold short line, staying on the taxiway, and be ready for immediate takeoff when cleared".
But his phrasing was non-standard, and definitely confusing.
I think the proper way to say it would have been, "N12345: Hold Short; You are #1 for departure; be prepared to go without delay."
The key parts being:
- "Hold Short" is an unambiguous instruction
- Informing you that you are next in line.
- Informing you what is expected, using the official term "without delay"
Even that is slightly risky, as the "without delay" could be misinterpreted if the pilot misses the initial "hold short" instruction.
I think the proper responses available to the pilot are one of:
- "Holding short. Ready to go without delay"
- "Unable" (I'm not ready yet, perhaps in part because I don't understand)
- "Please Clarify" (You used confusing terms; Spell it out for me like I'm 5)
You’re right, it is neither standard phraseology nor clear what the controller intended (though I agree with others suspecting he wanted you to be ready for a departure without delay).
This is an ideal example of why standard phraseology should be used. Pull up to what? Be ready for what? I could see this easily being mistaken for a LUAW by a less vigilant pilot. You were right to question the controller; good job. As a former tower controller, this makes my skin crawl.
A better choice, among many, would have been something along the lines of, “N123, expect to depart without delay, continue holding short of runway ##.” It is clearer, it does not use words in a standard takeoff clearance (namely “cleared” or “takeoff”), and it emphasizes the need to continue holding short.
I agree that an ASRS report would be useful, if you have the time.
That does not sound like standard phraseology is I’ve never heard the phrase “pull up and be ready“. If this was a busy airport, the tower may – and I do say may - request an aircraft pull up to the runway hold line and expect an expedited takeoff clearance for traffic separation. That was a bad job on the part of the tower; the guy should never have said that, as it’s a great way to cause runway incursion.