Immediately after touching down on the runway there’s a lot to do… If you’re making a touch and go then you’re rapidly cleaning up, while maintaining directional control and readying for power application to complete the “-and-go” portion of the maneuver. But if you’re staying on the ground, it’s time to clean up and figure out how to get to your destination on the airfield. Of course, if you’re at your home airport you likely know what to expect and where to go.
This flying tip comes straight for the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Many pilots say the AIM is not regulatory in nature, which is true, but if the agency that regulates aviation recommends something you better have a REALLY, really good reason to do something else… So let’s move beyond that and take the logical approach that we will follow the AIM guidance.
Section 4-3-20 in Airport Operations is titled Exiting the Runway After Landing, you can find the full text HERE. The main takeaway is that you often will not receive taxi instructions prior to landing. This isn’t always that case, sometimes a controller at a towered field will tell you to expect something, such as “Cessna 12345, expect full length, turn left at the end.” A controller may tell you this if there is some value for you. As an example if the runway is 9,000′ long and the far end is your only option for taxiing, it’s going to take an awfully long time if you touch down at the threshold, so the controller may prompt you with the information so you could make the decision on your own to land a little further down the runway than usual to reduce your taxi time.
However, the majority of the time you will not receive taxi instructions until you’re on the ground. When there are taxiway exits on both sides of the runway with FBOs on either side the controller will likely query you of your destination on the field to give you the most expeditious taxi route possible. You can be prepared for this with good review before flight skills… A quick review of the airport diagram and FBO locations on the field is all you need to do to be prepared. As a result, you’ll know where your FBO destination is on the field and what the potential taxi routes would be from the runway that is most aligned with the forecast winds. With that information you’ll be able to make the quickest taxi possible. It is important to have an idea of which FBO you’ll be going to because the longer it takes you to clear the runway, the more time chewed up before the next landing.
If there is only one parallel taxiway and exits to one side of the runway, the controller will expect you to make the first available turn off of the runway safely possible onto a taxiway. Remember, you can only turn off of a runway onto another runway when you receive a specific instruction from ATC to do so. Keep this in mind next time you land at a towered airport to prevent improperly turning off of a runway onto another runway when you’re not supposed to do so.
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9