I was just reading the FAA instrument procedures handbook and saw the paragraph below in Chapter 1. I'm puzzled by this, because I routinely get "Cross runways XX right and XX left on Alpha" as part of my taxi clearance. How do I square that with the statement here?

Instructions to cross a runway are issued one at a time. Instructions to cross multiple runways are not issued. An aircraft or vehicle must have crossed the previous runway before another runway crossing is issued. This applies to any runway, including inactive or closed runways.

(Top of 1-8.)

  • $\begingroup$ How sure are you that the controllers you deal with are strictly following the rules? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not! But I don't think I've ever had a progressive taxi clearance at this airport, where I've done probably 100 outings in the last couple of years. It's always just the taxiway sequence then any runway crossing clearances. So if they're breaking the rules, they're all doing it. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ Can you tell us the airport (so we can look at the taxi diagrams), the full taxi clearance, and the takeoff runway (not just the runways you crossed)? And if you can tell us an approximate date and time when you heard this, someone may be able to find it on liveatc.net. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ Also, are the runway centerlines less than 1000ft apart? See this answer $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ The airport is KCCR, with two sets of parallels. 32L/R and 19L/R. One routinely gets “runway 19L, taxi via ... alpha, cross 32 left approach and 32 right on alpha.” or on landing on 32 left “taxi to the east ramp via juliet, cross 19 left and 19 right on juliet”. The center lines are probably 500’ apart. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 3:16

3 Answers 3


The general FAA rule is indeed that ATC cannot issue a clearance to cross multiple runways.

However, waivers are available to airports with parallel runways close enough to make it impractical or even hazardous for aircraft to stop in between them and wait for a second instruction. They are essentially treating such a pair as a single runway for the purposes of this rule.

I'm not aware of any list of airports with such waivers or notification to pilots. However, one could predict whether it is likely by looking at airport diagrams. Consider the example of SFO/KSFO, which has such a waiver on both pairs; even a quick glance reveals why it's needed.

Also, I suspect the main concern behind the general rule is pilots misremembering which runway(s) they were cleared to cross when there is a substantial distance between them. The case of two very close parallels, along with the unusual (and thus memorable) multiple crossing instruction, does not seem to have the same safety concern.

  • $\begingroup$ If a waiver is issued, is perhaps a NOTAM published so that pilots are aware of non-standard ground clearances? $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ @mongo Added text addressing that. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ They don't even have to be parallel runways, at least not at my tower. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 2:37

@StephenS is right about San Francisco being an example that is exempt from the 2010 rule. The FAA ATC Job Order discusses this point in § 3-7:

At those airports where the taxi distance between runway centerlines is less than 1,000 feet, multiple runway crossings may be issued with a single clearance. The air traffic manager must submit a request to the appropriate Terminal Services Director of Operations for approval before authorizing multiple runway crossings.

(Emphasis mine.)

The paragraph references JO 7210.3AA - Facility Operation and Administration, which actually mentions 1,300 feet.

An example for such an instruction I remember hearing on LiveATC is "cross the ones", meaning 1L and 1R.

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Based on the FAA Safety Alert posted below, since June 2010 controllers were no longer allowed to give multiple runway crossings at the same time:

Instructions to cross a runway will be issued one at a time. Instructions to cross multiple runways will not be issued. An aircraft or vehicle must have crossed the previous runway before another runway crossing is issued.


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Does that cancel waivers and prevent new waivers being issued? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 7:44

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