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Ground Movement controllers are responsible for issuing information and instructions to aircraft under their control to achieve a safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic and to assist pilots in preventing collisions between aircraft moving on the apron and aircraft and vehicles, obstructions and other aircraft on the manoeuvring area (excluding the runways and their access points).

Apron - The part of an aerodrome provided for the stationing of aircraft for the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, for loading and unloading of cargo and for parking.

Manoeuvring Area - The part of an aerodrome provided for the take-off and landing of aircraft and for the movement of aircraft on the surface excluding the apron and any part of the aerodrome provided for the maintenance of aircraft.

Ground controllers will also issue IFR clearances when Delivery is not open, or doesn't exist at the airport.

In short the job of a Ground controller is to get aircraft from the aprons to the runways and back safely, with minimal delay. In conditions of low visibility they may be called upon to provide guided taxi, though one must be very careful as some scenery won't match perfectly with your sector file.

What You Need To Know

In addition to the general guidelines, a ground controller must:

  • Be familiar with the Clearance delivery SOP.
  • Be able to provide taxi clearances in accordance with UK phraseology documentation.
  • Be familiar with the taxiway layout of the given airport.
  • When applicable be familiar with which airlines/aircraft use which gates.


    Firstly you will need the following information:

  • The sector file for the given airport.
  • As a minimum the SID and ground movement charts for the given airport, though we recommend you download the complete collection.
  • The movements of aircraft on the manoeuvring area and the movement of aircraft on the apron are at all times subject to permission from the Ground Movement Controller. Responsibility on the apron is limited to providing advice and instructions to assist prevention of collisions between moving aircraft.


    Aircraft will contact for pushback. This action will have to be approved, with supplementary instructions if required (e.g. "Push facing south after British Airways 737 crosses left to right"). In the UK, a pushback is always "Approved" and not "Cleared".

    Transmitter Phraseology
    Pilot Ground, BAW634C gate A17, request start and pushback
    ATC BAW634C, after the British Airways A320 on your right hand side, start and pushback approved, facing west, Call for taxi"
    Pilot After the A320 on our right, push approved facing west, will call for taxi, BAW634C


    When the pilot of an aircraft requests start-up or taxi, the following information shall be given:

  • Runway in use.
  • Surface wind direction and speed.
  • QNH.
  • Outside Air Temperature (Turbine-engine aircraft only).
  • Significant Meteorological Conditions (E.G, RVR, Marked Temperature Inversion).
  • The items which are known to have been received (except the QNH) may be omitted. (If the pilot calls up and says he has "information Alpha", we can assume he already knows the runway in use, surface wind, air temperature and significant met conditions because they are on the ATIS).

    The QNH should always be given again in a taxi clearance.

    It is important that taxi instructions are clear and concise. The visibility from a flight deck is limited so the pilot is dependant to a large degree upon Ground control to assist him in determining the correct taxi route to be followed.

    Heavy aircraft are not to be given instructions that would require the use of more than normal power for taxying.

    In the interests of safety, use of the active runway for taxying purposes is to be kept to a minimum. If this cannot be avoided, then a clearance to cross should normally be withheld until no conflict exists.

    It is important that the Ground controller has permission from the Tower controller to allow an aircraft to cross. It is only the Tower Controller that can issue a crossing clearance.

    EZY1212 is an Airbus A320, just pushed back from stand 12 at Luton, runway 26 is in use.

    Transmitter Phraseology
    Pilot "Luton Ground, EZY1212, request taxi"
    ATC "EZY1212, Luton Ground, behind the company aircraft just pushing from stand 15, taxi holding point A1, runway 26, via A, QNH1015"
    Pilot "Behind the company aircraft pushing from 15, taxi A1, runway 26, via A, QNH1015, EZY1212"
    * Aircraft should be handed off to the tower frequency, as they are approaching the holding point to the runway*
    ATC "EZY1212, Contact Luton Tower, 132.550"
    Transmitter Phraseology
    Pilot Liverpool Ground, EZY134, vacated 27 on E, Request taxi to stand
    ATC EZY134, after the company 737 crosses left to right, left turn, taxi stand 11 via V
    Pilot After the company 737 crosses left to right, left turn, taxi stand 11 via V, EZY134

    ATC doesn't clear aircraft for shutdown, that is the pilots responsibility. Flight plans are also not closed by ATC - this is done automatically.