What is the maximum taxi speed and who defines it?

Aviation Asked by Ygor Montenegro on December 5, 2020

Which is the maximum speed that an airliner is limited to while taxiing?
I know that during 90 degree turns it is 10 knots, but what about long, straight taxiways? 20 knots? 25? 30?

More broadly, where I can find this information?
Would it be in company SOPs? Manufacturer’s FCOM?

4 Answers

A "Safety Alert for Operators" (SAFO 09004) from 2/11/09 says "Slow the aircraft to a fast walking speed on the centerline of the landing runway prior to attempting to exit the runway. Taxi at a fast walking speed until parked at the ramp or until aligned with the centerline of the runway for takeoff."

Which, of course, isn't a regulation, in this example is specifically talking about winter conditions.


Riverside County in Southern California has an ordinance (regulation) that states: Section 12.08.100 Taxi speed. No person shall taxi any aircraft on the airport unless there will be no danger of collision with any person or object. All aircraft shall be taxied at a safe and reasonable speed commensurate with safe operation in relation to existing conditions and with due regard for other aircraft, persons and property. (Ord. 5661 § 1, 1988; prior code § 5.11 (part)) Source:

So whatever a "safe and reasonable speed" is. I've heard it called a "brisk walking pace."

I had an airline pilot as a ground school instructor once, and she said that ground control was giving them a hassle one day, so everyone decided to taxi at a "brisk walking pace" around LAX. Got ground whipped into shape real quick!

The FAA's website, under "Best Practices" says to "Maintain an appropriate taxi speed."

Since it's not clearly defined by the FAA, I assume that most airlines limit taxi speeds via their SOPs, also due to the variety of equipment, it might be unfeasible for the FAA to mandate a specific speed.


  • Max 30 kts: straight line with no close obstacles (for example: back-tracking on the runway)
  • Max 20 kts: straight line with obstacles (for example: on the taxiway, or close to other aircraft/stands/ground vehicles)
  • Max 10 kts: turns and entry onto ramp area

Correct answer by Canuk on December 5, 2020

Both of the Boeing 747 operators I flew for in the 1990s observed a max taxi speed of 25 knots on a straight taxiway. We were told in ground school that Boeing recommended 20 knots.

Concerning a previous answer of 10 knots in a turn, while that may be a good general answer, it would be subject to conditions. I remember once almost leaving the taxiway in a turn at Jeddah even though I was a little less than 10 knots. It was over 110F, which made the asphalt a little slippery. After than experience, I slowed my 90 degree turns to around 6-7 knots if there was any question concerning the conditions.

Another consideration concerning taxi speed is how heavy you are and how far you have to taxi. The problem is tire heating. I seem to remember being told the Boeing 747 had a maximum taxi distance of 30,000 feet at maximum weight. I don't know whether that was really true, but I do know that at Honolulu a taxi to the reef runway from some parking areas is at or a little over that.

Since I've been retired for 15 years, please take anything I say with due consideration to my ageing-failing brain.

Answered by Terry on December 5, 2020

There is no official FAA guidance on taxi speed. There is an urban legend around that the speed limit is "no faster than a man can walk" and although every airplane exceeds that pace today, the origin of that "no faster than a man can walk" goes back to the early days of aviation. The very early planes had no brakes and no steerable wheels! They required wing walkers to stop the planes and to guide them around corners. Yes it was possible for the pilot to raise the tailskid off the ground and rudder his way around a corner, but in close quarters this would add too much speed so that wing walkers were the solution. Why the rule of "no faster than..." Don't leave your steering gear (the wing walkers) behind!

Answered by Skip Miller on December 5, 2020

And here, a Reference from Boeing's 737 FCTM (pdf). Ch2 for ground operations.

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Answered by Ygor Montenegro on December 5, 2020

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