I recently had a ride to LCY (London City). Awesome, by the way. They have only one runway (09/27) and no apparent taxiways.

enter image description here (Source: Google Maps)

After landing, how do the aircraft get from the runway to the terminal? Do they just perform a U-turn on the (end of the) the runway and taxi back to the terminals?

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    $\begingroup$ Nomenclature: taxiing down the runway in the opposite direction of takeoffs/landings is known as a back-taxi. $\endgroup$
    – jdude97
    Jul 21, 2019 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ Probably, since there doesn’t appear to be any other option. Since you were just there though, weren’t you able to observe this directly yourself? Or I guess you didn’t think about it at the time and only noticed when looking at the overhead image later... $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2019 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ Why the down vote? Question whose answer is obvious to many may not be obvious to others. $\endgroup$
    – JZYL
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ This question isn't exactly a dupe, but it gives a lot of relevant information $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby There are lots of conceivable alternatives. Maybe landing is only permitted on 27, or maybe aircraft are required to taxi in the grass, or maybe this airport is only open to aircraft that are capable of vertical takeoff. It's not necessarily obvious to everyone that aircraft backtaxi here on a regular basis. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2019 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


To answer the title question, yes.

There are nice timelapse videos for EGLC/LCY on YouTube, if you want to see it in action. (Example.)

As for the actual operation at the airport, below is the official chart and textual data via the UK AIP:


b) Minimum Runway Occupancy Time - Arriving Aircraft.

  1. Pilots are reminded that prompt exit from the runway enables ATC to apply minimum spacing on final approach that will achieve maximum runway utilisation and will minimise the occurrence of 'go-arounds'.
  2. When landing on Runway 09 pilots should commence back-track as soon as practicable and exit via Hold Echo unless otherwise instructed by ATC. Any aircraft that continues landing roll beyond Hold Kilo may infringe the ILS critical area.
  3. When landing on Runway 27 A318 and CS100 pilots should plan to exit at Hold Delta (after a back-track if required). A318 and CS100 aircraft are not permitted to exit via Holds Charlie, Bravo, or Alpha. All other aircraft types may use any Hold to exit the runway except Hold Echo which shall only be used when specifically instructed by ATC. Pilots should be aware that use of Hold Alpha will increase Runway Occupancy Time.
  4. Pilots expecting to use the full runway length to stop (e.g. due aircraft weight/meteorological conditions) are requested to inform Thames Radar on first contact.

(Bold emphasis mine.)

The short version (runway 9): backtrack [on the runway] to vacate as soon as possible (example from cockpit) using the specified exits even if other exits may seem to be available, and if you need full runway length, notify the approach controller (Thames Radar).

(If the pilot does need full length, the approach controller needs to know to add extra spacing for the plane behind.)

For the exits mentioned in the text, reference the chart below:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Can a smaller plane (not sure of the precise value of "smaller") use Twy F Stub as a turnaround point to expedite the turnaround and minimize the back taxi time? $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jul 22, 2019 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan: Sorry not following. The stub is marked X. It's right next to a circular pad made for that purpose. See quoted points 2 and 4. Note: even without the pad near the stub, an A318 (largest plane LCY handles) can manage a 180 on that 30 m wide runway, so a smaller plane would need even less width. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jul 22, 2019 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ @PerlDuck: Super find 👍 That's an Airbus A318 using Delta as point 3 says (due to its size compared to the other smaller LCY traffic – other exits are narrower). And here's runway 09 from the cockpit of a jet. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jul 22, 2019 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ @PerlDuck: You're right, that's Echo – still, Echo is not in the not permitted list. And point 3 permits Echo if ATC specifies it. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jul 22, 2019 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ @PerlDuck: From the [2016] video I linked in the answer, the pilot uses what seems to be Echo on the chart, but the sign (and text) say Delta. (That's why I confused them.) Update: Mystery solved, the current D is a new taxiway. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jul 23, 2019 at 6:00

Taxiing back to the other end is a "backtrack". At a controlled airport like that, the backtrack would need a clearance.

When you land at London City, you will roll out and turn off onto that little turnaround bay, where you are "clear of the active" and you would then need a backtrack clearance to return to the other end.

It would depend on the traffic level. If you landed and someone was right behind you, you might need to wait for the other a/c to roll past and then you'd get a backtrack clearance to pull back out onto the runway to taxi to the other end. If it's not busy, the tower controller may give you a backtrack clearance as part of your landing clearance so you can land, turn around and proceed straight back. The controller can't give a landing clearance to anyone else until you are clear.

In any case, the main thing is that you can't proceed back without permission from somebody.

Note that London City is now controlled offsite using special cameras and sensors, but it works the same way.

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    $\begingroup$ Your answer seems to contradict the quote from UK AIP posted by ymb1, which states that after landing runway 09 aircraft should backtrack immediately, NOT roll out to the turnaround bay. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2019 at 6:16

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