"Request runway crossing" on tower frequency not available

On Friday night, I was just beginning a flight from KSFO to EHAM, and I had a major issue with the ATC. This is how the conversation went:

Me: G-EJFX, ready for pushback
Ground: G-EJFX, Pushback approved
Me: G-EJFX ready to taxi to runway 1L (my nearest runway)
Ground: Taxi to 28L, contact tower when ready.

For those who do not know, I needed to cross 1L and 1R in order to get to 28L, so this happened:

Me: G-EJFX request permission to cross 1L
Ground: Contact tower

Key info: ground and tower were separate controllers

This is where the problem occurred. My intention was to cross 1L and 1R, but there was simply no option on the ATC screen to request a runway crossing. In the end, I simply had to request Takeoff from 28L even though I was holding 1L. In order to show ATC what my actual intentions were, I had to change my callsign to “CROSS1L” when requesting takeoff from the runway that was on the other side of the airport. Obviously, tower was confused by this. Next:

Me: CROSS1L, ready for takeoff at 28L
Tower: CROSS1L, hold position
Me: holding position, CROSS1L

5 mins later
Tower: LUAW RWY 1L

This is when I got confused. In my drastic efforts to let ATC know my intentions, I accidentally pressed stand by

Me: Stand by, CROSS 1L
Me: disregard last message, CROSS1L

At this point tower realised my intentions and told me to cross 1L and 1R and then take off on 28L

Effectively, I am reporting that sometimes there is no option to request runway crossing on tower frequency. This should be fixed ASAP.
Apologies if this was hard to read.

9 Likes

I get exactly what you mean, it’s quite frustrating at times and definitely something that needs to be implemented. All you can really do in that situation is stay on Ground frequency and request the crossings (apart from what you did).

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This was on the expert server?

Yeah it was on Expert

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I was the ground controller that day during the time you were there. @Henrik_E (not really active on the forum) was the tower controller, and from the look of my flow there was no confusion and tower was giving out crossings just fine. Could you recall how others were crossing the 1s? Henrik did not tell me of any issues on his end with doing so.

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I agree, there should be an option to request runway crossings with Tower. Depending on facility SOP’s, it is very common for the local controller (Tower) to issue the runway crossing’s.

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I’ve experienced the same thing where ground has disconnected as I’m waiting to cross, so have had to back-taxi the runway I’m trying to cross and use that instead

I had the same issue - I spawned in and when I got to requesting runway crossing @IceBlue told me to contact tower. I tried to request with tower but there was no option so I tried asking ground again to which I got the same response. On third attempt I was asked to follow instructions so quickly left the session.

KSFO was mega busy on Friday night and I agree with @IceBlue that in real word ATC this is a tower procedure. Definitely something that needs addressing.

p.s. I did spawn again and asked tower for take off upon runway crossing and controller understood what I really meant.

Hi! Yep, I was the controller. First of all, sorry for the confusion and thanks very much for your patience!

It was clever of you to change your callsign to CROSS1L but it was so busy that I didn’t even notice! Thanks for staying put and not crossing without clearance. Some might say that this problem would be fixed if ground handled the runway crossings, but during an event as busy as yesterday’s, and when I was managing the departure flow off 4 runways, I really needed to have you all on my frequency! I completely agree that a runway crossing request should be added on tower frequencies, but until then, I’ll think twice before issuing takeoff clearances off runway intersections, especially at airports with complex layouts like KSFO.

Again, thanks for your patience. I hope you had a nice flight to Schiphol! :)

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Yes there really should be the option to request runway crossings when on tower frequency. When there are two different ATCers doing tower and ground it is just a lot easier for tower to handle runway crossings vs. constant communication on when it will be ok for ground to cross planes while tower has somebody line up and wait.

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I’m very sorry you ended your session. One thing you should know is that once you tune onto my frequency, even if you don’t transmit anything, your aircraft icon automatically turns blue on my screen, so I can see that you’re on my frequency and waiting for instructions. It’s like a ‘monitor tower’ instruction in the real world: I can see that you’re there and know what you want even if you don’t say anything. You were likely told to ‘Please follow instructions’ because you switched back to ground without instruction. I would probably have crossed you within a few minutes without you ever having to call up :)

Although I tried to cross aircraft (when 1L was clear) the instant they tuned into my frequency, workload permitting, perhaps I should have been more proactive in telling them to ‘Hold Short 1L’ if the runway was occupied. That way, they would know I know they’re waiting to cross.

Anyway, I’m glad things worked out on your second try!

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Did not know that! will definitely keep in mind for when this happens in future.

Still think a cross runway option on tower would be more useful for both parties though

Although I wouldn’t recommend resending a request regularly, I have in the past if theres confusion. I can’t say I have ever encountered this particular situation, but I would hope an expert controller would spot the issue when brought to attention and understand the reasoning.

@IceBlue all of the surrounding aircraft were actually taking off on 1L and not crossing any runways.

@Henrik_E thanks for the understanding. I didn’t want to ruin what you were doing but was literally sat there thinking “what can I do?” . It was great that you realised and my flight was great 😊

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Ahh, I understand where the confusion came from then, as most of the aircraft for 28L were crossing the 1s at the intersections closest to 28L itself.

I didn’t realise we didn’t have a crossing for tower- a definite feature required. Thanks for shouting up :)

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