You’ll note from the phrasing at the end of the exit runway command that it is very specific about when you should stop and switch to ground. It’s not the second your rear gear hit the runway. It’s not as you roll down the runway in search of an exit. And it isn’t before you’ve crossed the hold short, because if you haven’t yet crossed it, you’re still on the runway.
The first two scenarios are clearly incorrect and silly, but it’s actually the third that has the potential to cause the most significant issues, so I want to focus on that for a moment if I may.
As stated, you are not clear of the runway if your plane is between the runway surface and the hold short line. Stopping at this point to request taxi to parking is actually a dangerous situation which can cause incursions or go arounds, yet it’s a fairly common mistake.
Let’s take this scenario here:
As you can see, a plane has just landed on 19L and is exiting (in theory), while another is LUAW, awaiting takeoff. Meanwhile, another plane is approaching short final for that same runway, and he needs that middle plane to takeoff and be clear of the runway before he can land. The plane awaiting takeoff is nervous he’s going to be run down, and the plane on final inevitably feels the need to tell Tower he is on final because he doesn’t see the LUAW plane moving.
All of this because the exiting plane has no idea that by stopping short of the hold short, he has essentially shut down the runway for everyone else, and because he’s landed, he sees no reason to expedite anything.
Here is where many of you stop to request taxi to parking, and it creates situations such as the one above:
As you can see, the exiting plane has stopped short of the hold short, and is in no particular hurry to clear that area, most likely because like a lot of you, he’s not aware that he’s still on the runway and no one can take off or land. He’s entirely oblivious to the panic of the other two pilots. This is extremely common.
Tower cannot clear the LUAW plane for takeoff until the runway is clear, and that is when the plane is fully past the hold short. If Tower can’t clear the plane for takeoff, we get closer and closer to an unnecessary go around for the plane landing behind him. This is especially important at busy hubs such as FNF or other events, where the windows for departures and landing are tiny enough as it is without the exiting plane holding up traffic.
Please do not stop and switch to ground until you have fully exited the runway by crossing the hold short line.
A couple side notes about choosing exits:
I know in IF you can stop your plane in a much shorter distance than in real life, but this does not mean that the first exit you come across is a good choice. Please choose an exit a bit down the runway, even if you’re able to stop on a dime. Chances are, if you exit very near the threshold, you will cause complications with planes taxiing to the runway for departure. It’s much better to pass these planes up on the runway and exit further down.
Utilize high-speed taxiways (HSTs) appropriately. Undoubtedly you’ve noticed that most fields have exit taxiways that are closer to a 45 degree angle with the runway than perpendicular to it. These exist precisely so that landing aircraft can clear the runway expeditiously, and they should be used whenever convenient.
You should always use the HST that is designed for the direction of traffic. You should never make a 160 degree turn onto the HST for the opposite direction of traffic. This takes much more time, holds up other traffic, and is not an easy turn to make.
Let’s use runway 15/33 at WMKK as an example. Whether landing southbound or northbound, you should use the HSTs with the green lines, not the ones with the red lines, which require you to stop and make almost a complete 180 to exit the runway. You’ll note that these are the same HSTs, just switched based on north- or southbound configuration. This should be self-explanatory, and the intended direction of travel should be clearly evident from the HST’s orientation in relation to your heading:
If not for the controllers, at least help out your fellow pilots with expeditious runway exits. Cross the hold short, utilize HSTs properly.