This is somewhat already answered here (Is it a flight violation to mishear ATC instructions for exiting the runway?), but this question is more geared toward taking action before hearing from Tower.

I fly out of a towered airport somewhat often. 99% of the time when they provide me with a runway exit (Taxiway B in this case), it's the same one.

Sometimes however, they do not provide me an exit instruction quickly enough despite the fact that I'm rolling up to where I should be exiting for Taxiway B. They might either be busy with other aircraft or simply don't call out an exit instruction. Sometimes I've just rolled past Taxiway B and other times I start heading my aircraft in that direction just to finally hear Tower give me instructions to exit via Bravo.

So, the question is, if I know I'm almost always going to be assigned a given taxiway, should I take it or should I always be waiting for Tower to assign one and thus just keep idling down the runway until I get an assignment from them?

This becomes even more important when flying into unfamiliar airports. Do you just keep rolling or do you take a taxiway when you know you can?

I will like to clarify, 100% of the time, I have received a taxiway instruction AFTER I've started to point the nose of my aircraft at a taxiway. I have never actually exited the runway without finally receiving the instruction.

  • $\begingroup$ Just musing: If eg exit A is prior to exit B and you have not received instructions by the time you reach A then, based on the answers given, you should leave by A. Yes? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 11:04

2 Answers 2


Note: I am assuming you are asking about US regulations.

If the tower does not give you an instruction, you should not wait for one. Leave the runway at the next available taxiway and then wait for further instructions:

4−3−20. Exiting the Runway After Landing

The following procedures must be followed after landing and reaching taxi speed.

a. Exit the runway without delay at the first available taxiway or on a taxiway as instructed by ATC. Pilots must not exit the landing runway onto another runway unless authorized by ATC. At airports with an operating control tower, pilots should not stop or reverse course on the runway without first obtaining ATC approval.

b. Taxi clear of the runway unless otherwise directed by ATC. An aircraft is considered clear of the runway when all parts of the aircraft are past the runway edge and there are no restrictions to its continued movement beyond the runway holding position markings. In the absence of ATC instructions, the pilot is expected to taxi clear of the landing runway by taxiing beyond the runway holding position markings associated with the landing runway, even if that requires the aircraft to protrude into or cross another taxiway or ramp area. Once all parts of the aircraft have crossed the runway holding position markings, the pilot must hold unless further instructions have been issued by ATC.

(Aeronautical Information Manual, emphasis mine)

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Regardless of regulations, it is common sense to vacate runway as soon as possible. Not to diss the sensibility of the asker 😉 TWR may assign a later exit to avoid creating intersecting traffic on ground. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Bianfable - Good answer. I would just add that the runway hold short markings support this, and mirror the convention of highway centerline markings: i.e. if there is a solid line and a dashed line you may always cross from the dashed side to the solid side, but may never cross from the solid line side to the dashed side. (without clearance...) Feel free to add this detail to your answer and I will delete the comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ A clarification that may be worth exploring: Reading between the lines of current answer implies- If Control fails to clearly communicate alternative instructions prior to the pilot exiting at the first safe opportunity, and this causes issues, then that is technically Control's problem rather than specifically the pilot's problem? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ @TheLuckless Absolutely, the controller is under no obligation to give any instructions, but they have to deal with it, if this causes any issues. An exception would be if a NOTAM has been published that prohibits exiting via a specific taxiway (e.g. because of construction work). It is the pilot's duty to check all NOTAMs before and not to exit via this taxiway. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ @RussellMcMahon Yes, if you are already slowed down to taxi speed, you must use exit A in this case. If you know that exit B is better you could delay slowing down to taxi speed until you are at B, but make sure not to block the runway unnecessarily long. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 11:10

In normal circumstances, you're not supposed to remain on a runway longer than you need for normal operational reasons, be it after landing, or before take-off.

Infact, at major/congested airports "Minimum RWY Occupancy Time" procedures are predetermined for both dep and arrival, so as to take the concept to it's limits. So, to minimize your time on the RWY is the conventional requirement, but the procedures to achieve this can be unconventional, for example,

(a)Crossing a stop bar without explicit spoken R/T permission (because, and only
because, the published procs for that particular RWY require it). (b)Preferred exits published for certain runways, and these invariably designate
exits other than the 1st. (where exit = taxiway)

Such variations to the original conventional procedures are normally very well documented with reminders given continuously via ATIS and other modes of comm so that pilots, ATC and all players are on the same procedural page.

Despite the above discussion, in case a situation requires it, you can be given ATC instructions to remain on the RWY, or permission to do so at the pilot's request.

Then there's LAHSO - Land And Hold Short Ops where it is mandated to stop on your landing runway, short of a certain cross RWY that's being used simultaneously, and await ATC instructions or then follow published instructions. Such procs can warrant training and approvals. The landing pilot must inform ATC early on, up in the air if it's not feasible for him to LAHSO. It cannot be 'mandated' for all, but refusing a LAHSO could lead to delays as the controller now has to readjust traffic sequencing and invariably reroute some.

Regarding the expectation of ATC instructions, to exit the RWY - The end of a landing roll often signals a whole load of actions for the cockpit, that too at speeds of upto 60Kts on a 'High Speed' or 'Rapid Exit' taxi track, and ATC is not supposed to interject at that point except if there's urgency/distress/emergency.

There are variations but as std procedure do not loiter on the RWY longer than absolutely needed.


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