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ATC Tower talk: Changing the way to say stay put - FAA switches at the end of this month from 'position and hold' to 'line up and wait'

by GlobalAir.com 10. September 2010 16:02
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At the end of this month, some of the chatter you hear from the tower in your headset will change slightly. That is when new FAA “phraseology” will take effect, changing the command of “position and hold” to “line up and wait.”

At face value, the change presents itself as a non-dramatic one. The ICAO already uses the same language, and Canadian airspace regulators made the switch a couple of years ago.

When an aircraft taxis to a runway, and traffic is taking off or landing, a controller will tell the pilot “line up and wait” rather than “position and hold.” In other words, you want to stay safe? Stop short of the line and do not move. Let the other planes take off or land first.

The change came about following a recommendation by the NTSB in 2000 to switch to the international protocol and alleviate confusion. A subsequent FAA safety-risk analysis showed that the words “position” and “hold” show up in many tower commands a pilot can receive on the ground.

(Links to an animated video and info on an online training course after the jump.)  

If a pilot hears only part of an instruction, it can cause confusion.  The NTSB believes the phrase “position and hold” (in many cases along with a busy tower) contributed to accidents and near-collisions on the ground, some resulting in fatalities.

While it obviously will take extra alertness to ensure controllers and aviators use and understand the new language, it likely will not cause a monumental shift in the way tower and aircraft communicate.

Nonetheless, the FAA has a video, complete with an animated Cessna taxing and lining up to a runway set a funky piece of background music, as well as a training course on its web site.

View the FAA “line up and wait” video here.

Check out the safety course by clicking here.

Then join the conversation in the comment section. What difference will the change mean to you? Was it worth the wait of 10 years between the NTSB advice and the FAA resolution? Ever been affected by a position-and-hold situation? Be sure to let us know.

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