ATC Asked To Assess Runway-Hold Procedures...

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Errors Cause Concern

The FAA on Aug. 1 issued a General Notice to all control towers, noting that recently there has been "increased concern" about operational errors involving taxi-into-position-and-hold (tiph) procedures. "It is essential that [air traffic] managers give priority to the management of tiph," says the notice. It mandates that by Sept. 30, each facility manager must determine if an operational need exists to justify the use of the procedure. "Such factors as capacity, efficiency, user input, etc., should be considered in making this determination," the notice says. The manager must then prepare a directive that prescribes local procedures for handling tiph. "Such procedures may include, but are not limited to, reading back the pilot's stated position, annotating flight-progress strips, posting or arranging flight-progress strips according to aircraft's intended takeoff position, or marking the location of aircraft with color-coded chips on a magnetic diagram of the airport," the notice says. Taxi into position and hold, according to AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, can save 20 or 30 seconds by putting a departing aircraft into an immediate launch position. "At busy places it can mean the difference between getting on your way and waiting another three minutes or longer while another aircraft lands," says the foundation.