ATC Comms 101 and the New Normal

(I can’t post on the original. If a mod wants to merge or do whatever, that’s fine. I don’t need 5 people telling me the original exists; I’m quoting it.)

Quick, what’s the first thing you learned about how to communicate with ATC when you first joined the live servers? Chances are, vacating your spawn point and heading to the runway tops the list. Which means “I need clearance to taxi.”

For the two-plus years I’ve been controlling, this has been well understood by nearly everyone, save for a stray here or there. But, suddenly, a new normal has appeared:

Taxi clearance optional.

Well, no, it’s still not. Everything in the tutorials regarding taxi clearance still stands, but there seems to have been a community meeting I wasn’t privy to where it was decided that pilots were no longer even going to bother asking. Just…off they go.

I can’t put into words just how baffling this is for me (and rarely am I searching for words). I have probably ghosted more people for taxiing without permission in the last two days than I have in two years. What gives?

Whether it’s the ease of achieving access to Expert or bad habits picked up on TS due to inattentive controllers, I don’t know, or care, honestly. Whatever the reason, nothing has changed.

Also note:

There will be no warning not to taxi without permission.

Warnings are for things that may be confusing or could be caused by a slip of the mind or can be easily corrected, etc. Warnings are not warranted for the simplest ATC communication there is.

Simply put, if you don’t know you need clearance to taxi, you do not belong on Expert. There is no counter-argument to that, and I defy you to pose one.


I agree. If you make a mistake and taxi without permission you don’t end up at the runway before realising, you will realise immediately. It’s just people thinking ATC won’t care or do anything but it’s simply requiring more attention from the controller to deal with a noob. These people and those who don’t know what line up and wait means are the worst!

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Dang! I can’t believe that there are pilots who don’t even ask for taxi clearance before taxiing.

I can’t believe it!!! Plus, they are on the expert server?!

Great message!

Yeah I’ve been seeing a lot of this too. The most puzzling part is that they’ll ask for pushback clearance, then just start taxiing. Like…what dude? Imbeciles.

Another thing I’ve noticed happen VERY frequently is people cutting others off. For example, I was on left base at KSJC earlier today. I announced I was on left base and that I was on minimum fuel (ATC went down minutes prior, was using unicom) and a Dash 8 (his name was ELZI or EZLI) came in behind me at 260 knots GS and cut in front of me (I was going around 220 knots GS turning base). He then proceeded to announce he was on final and slowed to 115 knots. No prior announcements or anything. I had to execute a go around. This is no different from cutting a huge line of cars in an exit lane on the highway: absolutely rude.

It’s a real shame because the standard on the expect server seems to be getting lower and lower.

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