View Full Version : "Position and hold" >< "Line up and wait"

6th Mar 2006, 07:20
In the US, ATC uses the phrase "position and hold" to instruct pilots to taxi onto the runway and hold there, while using "hold short" to instruct pilots to stop short of the runway.
It appears to me that there is a risk of confusion between "position and hold" which allows you to enter the runway, and "hold position" which means exactly the opposite.
It seems OBVIOUS to me that using the word "hold" in both a line-up clearance as in an instruction to stop, is ASKING FOR TROUBLE. By using "line up and wait" the risk of confusion is decreased and thus safety is improved.
Am I the only one who thinks that sooner or later there will be an accident because of this poor phraseology standard? :(

Old Smokey
6th Mar 2006, 08:51

No, you're not the only one who thinks that this phraseology use is an accident waiting to happen.

When it happens, it won't be an American or Taiwanese pilot who causes it, they're used to it. It will happen to someone from the rest of the world where such ambiguous phraseology would be thrown in the trash can.


Old Smokey

7th Mar 2006, 04:41
The hold short instruction is usually given by the ground controller as a limitation on a taxi clearance, an intermediate point at which to hold enroute to the active runway. Bad things happen if you pass this point without further clearance

It can also be given should the pilot state the readiness for takeoff to the tower controller upon reaching said active runway - in other words, a reply from tower to a pilot prompt for a TO clearance. If it's no, then "hold short" will be issued.

As far as tower controllers are concerned, work load dictates that the pilot be on frequency but don't call them because they'll call you. It's not up to the pilot to initiate the chitchat and cause a hold short instruction to be issued and tower controllers don't initiate contact only to issue "hold short". If the pilot keeps the trigger finger off the transmit button ( ever notice how some muppets just love to talk?) the first tower call will be Position and Hold or Cleared for TO.

It's really all perfectly simple and straight forward, a bit like moving your clothes from the lower peg to the upper peg unless you've had your house master's chit countersigned by matron because you're not playing cricket that afternoon and your parents are visiting.

No ambiguity at all, unlike a conditional "line up and wait" which really is an accident waiting to happen.

edited because the original made even less sense than I thought it did.

Willie Everlearn
7th Mar 2006, 11:32
Call me cynical, but....
If I "line up and wait" do I need to apply the brakes? I could wait without brake application. Couldn't I?
Perhaps I could also align my aircraft with the centreline and let it slowly gather speed from residual thrust whilst awaiting takeoff clearance.
What if I were to go to "position and hold"? What position? Any convenient spot on the runway at my discretion? They rarely qualify the 'position' part.
I've heard Metric is more accurate than Imperial?
Is it tyre or tire?
stAtus or sTatus?
It's so confusing! :confused:
Maybe it's all in our imagination?
Why, it might even be a simple matter of what is first learnt is longest remembered (and understood).
Damn those laws of learning. Someone else on the planet uses a different phrase than me!!
Gee. Could it be that international flying exposes us to these variations in phraseology across the world of international regulations? :hmm:
Why do I have to report 'established on the localizer' before receiving an approach clearance? Might that not be as odd to some or just us foreigners?

...it may just be one of those things that makes us different from one another. But, it sure as hell isn't necessarily 'safer'.

7th Mar 2006, 21:48
Why wait, the incursion accidents have already happened.

The hold short instruction is infact an unsafe clearance in itself. You should not be given an intermediate limitation as your taxi clearance should be something like "taxi to holding position Xray One" after which you can, if you like have the hold short of Runway 12 type of thing. What you cannot have is cleared to runway 17, hold short of Runway 12 at Xray one, as that is a broken clearance. At least in safety terms you cannot have it, but some of the intermediate clearances to appear in PANS ATM.

However, as long as the US stays with that phrase, then US carriers abroad will always risk getting squashed by somebody else

Dream Land
8th Mar 2006, 03:14
Why is "hold your position" very clear but "taxi into position and hold" so confusing?:confused:

8th Mar 2006, 08:07
Why is "hold your position" very clear but "taxi into position and hold" so confusing?:confused:
It's not the instructions themselves that are confusing, but the fact that two instructions resemble each other so much that there's a risk that one might think hearing one, while the ATCO actually said the other one.

Don't you think that sooner or later a crew (while very busy in the cockpit with heavy radio traffic, static interference and several stations transmitting at the same time) will hear the words "hold" and "position" and enter the rwy thnking they were cleared to do so, while in fact ATC said: "hold position"?

Using "line up and wait" takes away that risk! A pilot then knows that when he hears the word "hold" that it can NEVER be a line-up instruction.

Of course you could also change the sentence "hold position" to "stop" and change "hold short of..." to "stop before.."

My point is that the FAA should get rid of the fact that two words (hold and position) are used in instructions that have opposite meanings. Just like the fact that since the 1977 Tenerife accident the word "takeoff" can ONLY be used in the "cleared for takeoff" instruction.

Wouldn't that be an obvious improvement towards safety?

8th Mar 2006, 08:22
XL5 wrote: "unlike a conditional "line up and wait" which really is an accident waiting to happen"

I'm very curious to know why you consider this to be dangerous. IMHO it is a perfectly clear, unambiguous instruction which has been used for half a century at very busy airports in the UK without problems. I used it hundreds of thousands of times (yes, I mean that) at Heathrow Tower without any problems. What phraseology would you suggest ATC uses to achieve a situation where an aircraft may enter the runway and hold position? Remember that there is huge pressure on ATC from the airlines to achieve high movement rates so the situation where an aircraft is instructed to line up only after the one ahead has gone simply will not work.

8th Mar 2006, 09:36
There's another thread on this herehttp://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=214604
I have an issue with "hold in position" (sounds like "holding position") but not with "line up and wait", except that I don't usually bother to include the "wait" (as per our MATS) unless the reason for any delay is not obvious. Eg: aircraft on runway; slower departure ahead etc is pretty obvious. Slower ahead in IMC less so.
We don't get too many Americans in this part of the world, but the few I've spoken with agree this phraseology is a disaster in the making.
"line up and wait" is not a conditional clearance, by the way, an example of that would be "Behind the xxx short final line up behind"

Astra driver
8th Mar 2006, 17:36
Good grief!

How pedantic can some people get?

What's the difference; "Line up and wait" or "Position and hold"?
They clearly mean the same thing, Just as "Hold short" and "Hold position" do, and if there is any ambiguity about what was transmitted, is it really going to kill anyone to call and ask for clarification?

If in doubt, ask!

Of course I realize that the size of some pilots' egos would prevent them from doing so at the risk of sounding "Un-professional" on the radio, get over it, we're paid to be pilots, not professional broadcasters.

8th Mar 2006, 19:39
Good grief!
How pedantic can some people get?

I suppose that if, before Tenerife 1977, someone would have suggested to use the word "takeoff" ONLY for takeoff clearances, you would have called that pedantic too! :{
How pedantic will it be when a 747 lands on top of an Iberia (or whatever) A340, who thought that he was allowed to line up?

Astra driver
8th Mar 2006, 20:13
The Tenerife crash was a result of the impatient Captains desire to get going, despite what ATC was saying, even the first officer is heard to say "Wait, we don't have clearance!"

If in doubt, don't. Then clarify before proceeding.

I can't think of any instance where saying "line up and wait" vs "taxi into position and hold", or vice versa would have made any difference in the outcome.

8th Mar 2006, 20:48
I agree with sabenaboy (not because I am a former sabena boy myself - but for his viewpoint) ; "position and hold" and "hold position" are too close to eachother.
On the other hand "line up and wait" doesn't seem to be the best alternative, as (with some background noise and poor english) this might be understood as "line up 1 8" while this is not the intended runway... I was told this happened in real and it would be the reason why we use "line up and hold" or "behind the landing aircraft line up and hold behind".

8th Mar 2006, 21:15
Somebody mentioned earlier - though I haven't the willpower to trawl back and find it - where does the "AND WAIT" bit come into it?

Why does the phrase "Line up" (whether conditional or not) need any extra comment - it's NOT a take-off/departure clearance - shirley, it just means enter the runway, point in the right direction, sit still and wait for a further clearance.

Has there been an incident in which somebody didn't wait, or didn't understand, after receiving just a "line up" clearance?

(Yes, it was deliberate).

Astra driver
8th Mar 2006, 21:17
OK, first let's get it straight;

The phrase used by US, Canadian and Central American controllers is:

"Taxi into Position and Hold" not[U] "Position and hold"

The "hold short" command is given by the tower when an aircraft is either waiting to cross an active runway or is waiting to take-off. In either case when a "hold short" command is issued [U]it is required to be read back by the pilot. A failure to read this clearance back will result in the tower repeating the instruction and requesting a read back.

To achieve any possible confusion between the two a pilot would have to hear a partially blocked transmission with all the words blocked except the word "hold", which, if that happens, the pilot should then ask for clarification.

If we really want to address an issue of safety here it should perhaps be directed at the issuing of Position and hold or line up and wait clearances at night or in low vis conditions. At least during a clear day if someone taxis onto an active runway the landing aircraft will be able to see it and initiate a go-around.

Changing phraseolegy may only open up another can of worms as a new previously unthought of confusion may result.

9th Mar 2006, 01:17
The problem can be that the phraseologies used to express the same idea vary from place to place. I know a controller who had to order a go-round to an aircraft short final because a PanAm plane, cleared to the holding position, lined up.Not too long after that, NZ went to the phrase "holding point" (took about a year, if I remember correctly). At that time I think the Americans (for example) were using "hold in position" instead of our "line up".
And it seems to me, that whether recommended by ICAO, or the local authority, some of the choices for phraseology can get fairly arbitrary. Sometimes it seems like a change of CEO decided to reinvent a perfectly good wheel. But I digress.
Line-up, or Taxi into position and hold, by themselves, are only dangerous if the controller then clears someone else to land on that runway. Different issue. And while it's one that needs attention, this one relates to the rest of the world using something different to the US, Canada and Central America. Which has, and will continue to cause confusion.

Willie Everlearn
9th Mar 2006, 11:06
Astra driver
I wholeheartedly agree with your posted comments.
I also share in your frustration. :{

How these discussions get started is barely comprehensible. Unless, English is a second language? :confused: Which, in this case, it likely is.

"taxi into position and hold" means exactly that. It CLEARLY and SIMPLY isn't a clearance to take off. It is an 'instruction' to do something with your aircraft. Whilst, "line up and wait" is merely a rephrasing of the same bloody instruction!

"Position and hold"! Where? On the bloody lawn??

How professional pilots with a modicum of intelligence and education, not to mention the responsibility shouldered, fail to see the two are the same, is absolutely amazing.

Now, if we wish to go off in the direction markjoy is pointing out, we may be onto something. Hearback/readback problems.
When in doubt, ask or read it back. If you think you've got it right, but not really, it could cost lives. Which is a risk. Which is what we manage and something we need to be better at.

I wouldn't, out of respect for a fellow professional, wish to belittle sabenaboy for I'm sure this is a legitimate comment on his part, but I would (as a North American) wish to ensure him this instruction IS the same as "line up and wait".

Tenerife. Indeed! :mad:

Dream Land
9th Mar 2006, 11:15
Why in the world would I have to receive an instruction to a holding point? I think it is quite simple to "taxi to RWY 17L". Why is a holding point mentioned?

At my ORD base it was "taxi to runway 32L Tango 10 via bla bla", no mention of a holding point. :ugh:

10th Mar 2006, 11:22
Dreamland - the problem is this:
- in some parts of the world "taxi to/for RWY17" means to line up on RWY17,
- in other parts of the world it means to go towards RWY17 but not enter the RWY.

The only safe way to be sure is to be specific about the clearance limit (like all other clearances, by the way) - in this case, the clearance limit is the holding point.

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