I'm a student pilot and I'm just wondering on if I receive a taxi clearance at an airport then read it back can I wait a minute or two before I actually start taxiing or do I start to go immediately? For example, let's say I'm on the ramp and call ground to taxi to the active for a southwest departure. I know I'll be expecting runway 23 since I'm familiar with my airport and have already obtained the ATIS and planned my expected route ahead of time. However, instead they tell me to taxi to runway 27L at Romeo via Foxtrot, Alpha, Romeo and then I read it back. If I'm unfamiliar with the taxi route can I take a second to check my airport diagram and make sure I know where I'm going as well as brief the updated route?


2 Answers 2


When you receive a clearance or instruction from ATC you are expected to comply upon receipt. However, if you cannot comply upon receipt, then you should tell the controller that you need to delay the start of your taxi (for some time period, particular reason, etc.). It's possible then that the controller will cancel your taxi clearance and tell you to advise when you're ready to actually start your taxi.

After ensuring that the controller acknowledges that you will be delaying your taxi, if the clearance is not canceled, then you can taxi when you're ready (i.e., the original taxi clearance still applies).

It's important to be ready to precisely follow the taxi clearance you are given. If you are not fully prepared it is perfectly acceptable and expected that you will delay until you are fully confident that you can comply with the clearance.

In the example cited in your question where you are unfamiliar with the taxi route, you can always ask the controller for "progressive taxi" instructions. Progressive taxi instructions include, as necessary, precise step-by-step instructions given as you proceed along the taxi route.

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    $\begingroup$ I believe the gist of the OP question was whether he can take some time to review the airport chart to make sure he knows where he's going or does he need to move immediately. I would say it's ok to delay about 30-40 seconds. Always better to make sure where you're going as opposed to just taxiing without being fully sure. If you think you'll need more time, as @757toga wrote, tell the ground controller or request progressive taxi. $\endgroup$
    – dashman
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ I think it highly depends on the airport: If you're at a busy one with lots of ground movement, then you need to be on the ball. If you're at a remote airport, where students are prevalent and you might be the only plane on frequency, taking some time is totally fine. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 14:24

You are expected to comply when you receive clearance from ATC, and you are supposed to follow the exact taxi instructions.

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    $\begingroup$ This adds nothing to, and basically only restates, the existing answer. Please do not post further "answers" like this. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 14:25

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