Unless you know the airport like your own backyard, it seems like requesting progressive taxi would always be the safest option to essentially eliminate the possibility of taking a wrong turn or busting a hold short. Aside from the risk of slightly annoying the folks in the tower, are there any drawbacks to requesting progressive taxi as standard operating procedure?

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    $\begingroup$ What size of airport do you have in mind? I guess for a major international airport at rush hour it will be more than "slightly annoying the folks in the tower" if every single aircraft requests progressive taxi... $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Aug 17 '20 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ There's a Japanese line of ATC sims imported into the U.S. as the "Airport Hero" series. They strike a good balance between realism and game. The game puts you in full control of how each aircraft taxis, and micromanaging taxi routes is one of the most challenging aspects of the game. I've often found myself yelling at the virtual pilots for being so dependent on me. $\endgroup$
    – user45623
    Aug 18 '20 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Land at many airports in Europe and the only taxi instructions you will get are: "Follow the follow-me car." Even if you know the field like the back of your hand. That might be safer than progressive taxi. $\endgroup$ Aug 18 '20 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ I'll be shocked if there isn't someone working on a fully automated solution for this right now. $\endgroup$
    – kojiro
    Aug 19 '20 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ @kojiro There is. See for instance followthegreens.com $\endgroup$ Aug 19 '20 at 20:10

Apart from appearing really unprofessional, the obvious drawback is a significantly higher workload, both for the pilot but especially for ATC. You're not the only aircraft moving around at the airport, and even if you are, the controller most likely has other things to do than focus entirely on you.

As a pilot, you will also have a lower situational awareness, since you are not actually keeping track of where you are, but just following turn-by-turn instructions. Are you 100% sure you are at the right runway? And that the runway is long enough? What was the departure procedure again? Is the aircraft correctly configured for takeoff? I guess you didn't have time to check the charts, do a departure briefing and run through checklists since you had to focus on the radio all the time.

A more subtle drawback is that the controller will trust you less and as a result may very well choose to delay you in some situations. This is not written in any books, but controllers do establish sort of a mental picture of a pilot's competence level while talking to them, and if someone repeatedly requested progressive taxi, that would certainly raise a red flag. If you're waiting in line for takeoff, and there is a gap between arriving aircraft just large enough to get you going, the controller is more likely to let you wait for a better opportunity if they do not trust you fully. What's to say an (apparently) inexperienced pilot won't line up and spend 30 seconds on the runway before applying power - forcing a go-around for the aircraft on short final? Best wait another few minutes until there is a larger gap.

Ultimately, if you are in doubt about where you are, PLEASE DO ASK the controller for help! But, if you plan on making a habit of it just for convenience, please know that you are abusing the system, potentially reducing ATC capacity and causing an unsafe situation for yourself or others.


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