Tower Position Relief Briefing

Jan 23, 2009
Okay, for all you seasoned Tower Controller vets out there... When giving a position relief briefing (and yes I know... it's different from facility to facility),
Do you/have you ever used the phrase:

"All runways & taxiways are open and available"?

If so, or even if you've never heard this phrase, what would be your interpretation of it? Some people at my facility are of the opinion that if you say it, it means that the runway(s) are open and can be utilized. If you have an aircraft cleared for takeoff/land on a runway, that runway is "open" but not "available". If the runway is closed (i.e. snow removal, construction, etc.) then it's closed... no argument there.
Other people at my facility argue (quite furiously even) that if you have an A/C cleared to takeoff/land, that if you say in the relief briefing that the runway is open, that that statement is False, because there is an A/C on the runway! IMO, that would mean the rwy is open, but not available because an A/C is occupying it. If you're going to tell me that, during a relief briefing when I say "Rwy 32L is open" is not true because an A/C is on it, then I would argue back that "Well, then that A/C damn well better get off the rwy cause if it's not open it's closed, and an A/C has no business being on a closed runway!"

I know, it seems frivolous to even be arguing this, but that's the argument made by an old-timer at my facility. Soooo.... any support anyone can gather would be appreciated, especially if you can back-up your argument in the .65 or the AIM. Thanks!
Jan 23, 2009
STATUS; unavailable, closed, occupied.

We pretty much do that at the beginning of the relief briefing. We state the current ATIS code, then the runways in use. Ex. "Yankee, 23, 17" then go on with the rest of the briefing. Some people have suggested we just get away from the phrase "All runways & taxiways are open and available" altogether, which to me seems like a good idea. But like at any facility, you're going to have several old farts (and fart-etts) that are set in their ways, and as a developmental, we're at the mercy of whoever is plugged in with us as to which way they want it done.


Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
Sounds like you do it same as the tower I'm at, this is my 5th tower and everyone seems to be a bit different... We have a status board that contains all airfield information so our brief is something like, " I have the SIA board, Rwy 3, Atis Bravo"... Then relieving controller " Rwy 3 is open and available, traffic, blah, blah"

Then wait the 2 min overlap..


Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2008
Lakeville, MN
sounds like you need some traffic so you dont have as much time to argue over stupid things. we do the same thing at my tower, tho:)


Jan 10, 2010
Egads. People who try and nitpick every possible outcome annoy the :p:p:p:p:p:p:p shit out of me.
Tell them they are reading too much into it. Open/available/occupied are three different items.

Open: Is the runway open, or closed. :p:p:p:p:p:p:p duh.

Available: Can you use the runway or not? You might have local procedures that preclude you from using the runway, making it unavailable, but its still open.

Occupied: Is someone landing/taking off or not? Or possibly a vehicle or aircraft transiting the runway. This should be covered in the 'traffic' portion of the position briefing if it is not a seperate briefing item in your checklist.

Reading any more into it is more retarded than the special olympics.


Trusted Member
Dec 12, 2008
CLT- Charlotte Douglas Int'l Airport
We just say if each runway is open or closed. If one is closed we give the reason and any other info we know about it. After that we start to give the traffic. If there is someone holding in position, cleared to land on short final, or cleared for takeoff it's obvious that the runway is occupied and not available to anyone else. So we just eliminated the available and occupied steps and let the receiving controller interpret it based on the current traffic. Everyone does their briefings a little differently, but I don't think I have ever heard anyone say whether or not the runways were available or occupied.


Senior Analyst
Aug 18, 2008
We say,"Do you have the boards?"
The answer is always yes or you shouldn't be plugged in.
Then we say,"Traffic..."
2 minute overlap