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This is a list of the ICAO's standard phraseologies used for preparation for takeoff. I don't understand why "lining up" is (recommended to be) used as a response to a conditional line-up instruction. It can be very confusing, because it sounds like the pilot is lining up (against the ATC's intention) when he has to wait until the condition is met, like in the situation where the pilot has to wait until the arriving airplane touches down before she can taxi onto the runway to line up. I'm not a native speaker, so it might be just me. Does it sound reasonable to native speakers?

  • $\begingroup$ I can't answer your "why" question but as a native English speaker it does seem odd, for exactly the reason you mentioned. FWIW, when I learned to fly in South Africa I never heard anyone use it; I got plenty of conditional LUAW instructions but I always just read it back as "line up and wait". The US doesn't allow conditional LUAW so it isn't an issue here. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ The language in the US used to be "Nxxxxx, position and hold, runway 24", for example. "runway" didn't need to be said as you were typically already holding at the runway hold short line. And one would respond "Position and hold 24, Nxxxxx" then pull out on the runway and expect takeoff clearance next. Apparently, we have now switched to international language (which I think of as "european") and the language has changed to "line up and wait", meaning get your plane on the runway center line and wait for takeoff clearance. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Both "line up" and "lining up" are okay for the non-conditional form, so perhaps they're both allowed for the conditional form as well to make things more consistent for non-native speakers. Even most native speakers would have a hard time explaining why "lining up" can't be conditional, just that it sounds wrong, so expecting non-natives to grasp that isn't reasonable. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ @CrossRoads the "new" phrasing was developed after the Tenerife disaster and many close calls that have happened because instructions were mixed up or unclear. Hold means do not cross an intersection, position is just report your position. You don't want somebody pulling onto the active when ATC only wanted their current location or worse wanted them to hold without crossing. The same reason why "cleared" is never be used for a taxi clearance. Only takeoffs and landings use the word cleared in ground movements, "proceed to" or "taxi to" are used for ground clearance. $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 8:11

1 Answer 1


"Lining up" is not a proper response to a conditional lineup instruction;

"(condition) lining up (brief reiteration of condition)" is correct.

To use an actual example:

ATC: "RYR123 behind landing Airbus 320, line up runway 28L behind"

Pilot: "Behind landing Airbus 320, lining up runway 28L behind"

In my opinion, that leaves very little room for confusion.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ So basically: you can't ignore the parentheticals in that list. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 11:37

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