Ground collisions have thankfully been few and far between over the past few years. However, the FAA is taking no chances and continues to raise awareness of the risk of runway incursions between aircraft and vehicles operating on airports of all sizes. The agency said the majority of incursions occur in the first two-thirds of the runway. FAA data reveals some good news, that pilot deviations translating into incursions have dropped by nearly 50 percent over the past year.
The agency segments incursions into four different categories, A thru D. Category A and B, however, are serious enough that only skill and perhaps a bit of luck kept vehicles and aircraft from crossing paths. Category C and D incursions are those that allow ample time for parties involved to avoid a collision.
Category A and B incursions most concern the agency and form the backbone of the recently published Safety Alert for Operators 17012.
In a move to reduce the number of Category A and B incursions, the FAA has added a paragraph to its Order JO 7110.65, the manual air traffic controllers use to guide day-to-day operations. “Crossing of active runway(s) by aircraft/vehicle(s): 1. During departure operations, ensure that aircraft/vehicles intending to cross a runway do not cross the runway holding position markings until the controller visually observes the departure aircraft in a turn, or the departure aircraft has passed the point where the crossing aircraft/vehicle is located, regardless of altitude, unless authorized in FAA Order JO 7110.65, 3-10-10, Altitude Restricted Low Approach.”
The agency also listed a number of important reminders to pilots like actively listening to air traffic control and maintaining a high awareness of runway hold lines. Aircraft are expected to remain clear of the runway hold lines unless pilots are certain they’ve received a clearance to cross the runway, line up and wait or takeoff. It is critical that pilots ensure there are no aircraft nearby that might overfly their own airplane and that the runway is completely clear before entering for takeoff.
After receiving a LUAW clearance, pilots should expect some communication from ATC within 90 seconds. (Reference AC 120-74(7)(c)(9) and AC 91-73, Appendix 3). The FAA’s Runway Safety Office is just one of the many references cited in the SAFO.