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The above question comes from the following observations:

I've noticed over the years of flying (small GA aircraft) that some towers are talking more and more to me while landing. It used to be something like

Cessna 123, exit Charlie and contact ground.

Which is fine, but sometimes I get not just exit instructions, but full, complex taxi instructions while I'm still in landing rollout. The other day, as I was landing, I got the following:

Cessna 123 where are you parking?

I tell them, and they come back with,

Cessna 123, exit taxiway Juliet, taxi to parking via Bravo, Golf, Foxtrot, and cross runway 27 at Bravo, with me.

This may be an easy instruction when you are sitting at a desk reading it, but while landing at a somewhat unfamiliar airport, it’s a lot, and I would normally write that down, but not while I'm landing or even on rollout. So, I replied

Cessna 123, Exit Juliet, standby

There are some towers that never do this. I wonder if this is something they do with larger aircraft with two crew members, and when I'm flying into these larger airports as a single pilot they just treat me the same.

I thought the general rule for ATC was not to talk to pilots unless it was urgent during the takeoff and landing. Given all of the recent runway and taxi incidents, I tried to find what guidance ATC has on communicating with pilots (especially single-pilot operators) during those critical phases of flight.

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    $\begingroup$ When you say "while landing" do you mean "during the approach or flare" or "after touchdown but before runway exit"? $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2023 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ I really like your "exit(ing) Juliet, standby" approach. It confirms to them the minimum info they'll want: that you will in fact exit where they want you to, while deferring the rest until you're ready. And never be afraid to ask for progressive taxi instructions. ATC gets paid for it and they're not keeping score like in an aircraft carrier squadron. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Mar 22, 2023 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth "sometimes I get not just exit instructions, but full, complex taxi instructions while I'm still in landing rollout" seems to answer your question. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 23, 2023 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth its during the rollout when I'm applying back pressure and breaking and my hands and attention is on slowing down and exiting to be followed by a brief after landing checklist. FAA advises not to perform after-landing (or any checklists) while taxiing, so I need about 30 sec or so after exiting runway to run the after landing checklist. If there is a second crew member this can be done while taxiing without any problems. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Mar 26, 2023 at 17:27

3 Answers 3

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ATC are specifically advised not to give taxi instructions before touchdown or immediately after. From FAA Order 7110.65Z, section 3-10-9:

Runway exiting or taxi instructions should not normally be issued to an aircraft prior to, or immediately after, touchdown.

Please respond with "Possible ATC deviation, advise when ready to copy a phone number."

That is a joke. Responding with "standby" seems like a perfectly reasonable response to ATC issuing irrelevant instructions during a critical part of flight.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for providing the source! LOL at "Possible ATC deviation...!" $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Mar 26, 2023 at 17:34
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It's the controller trying to save you the trouble of having to stop on the taxiway and call ground (it's likely the same person if it's a smaller GA airport anyway, so they're saving themselves some hassle as well) and they're assuming you can absorb the info.

They aren't supposed to give instructions until the end of the rollout, so you should be getting it just as you are approaching the taxiway turnoff. But in any case, if you are preoccupied, just say "standby", pull off and stop past the taxiway threshold line, and call back for the controller to repeat. Can't go wrong that way.

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    $\begingroup$ I would imagine for pilots familiar with the airport, they know where their usual GA parking spot is already, so the taxi instructions are typically nothing more than a reminder for what they have memorised (and to listen out for any deviation because a taxiway is closed or similar). $\endgroup$ Mar 23, 2023 at 16:24
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Yes, controllers are in fact "trained" not to give complex taxi instructions during rollout.

However, this training seems to be more after-the-fact problem-fixing than an inherent part of on-the-job training. By that I mean that this is an issue which is often reported by pilots; pilots file safety reports and eventually controllers are reminded "don't confuse the pilot" via a printed Safety Bulletin posted at the sign-in desk or perhaps as part of the "read this when you have a moment" quarterly refresher training.

Actual techniques demonstrated and practiced during on-the-job training will depend on the specific trainer. Some trainers, particularly if they are also pilots, will harp on this issue; some will not.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for this insight, I started to do a safety report, but didn't finish it, but now I'll probably do one especially if it brings attention to the issue. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Mar 26, 2023 at 17:37

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