If you see an aircraft on the Runway…..

December 3, 2009 by Bruce Landsberg

7-1 introRunway safety – a continuing saga? Yes, and so it should be. Some may be tired of hearing about it but the facts are that from 2003 through 2008 there were between 24 and 32 Category A or B incursions annually. A & Bs are the bad ones where either exceptional skill, some luck or likely a bit of both prevented a catastrophe.

It was my privilege to represent GA and to speak at the FAA’s International Runway Safety Conference in DC this week along with two NTSB members, The airlines, airport operators air traffic controllers – in short anyone who had anything to do with keeping aircraft and vehicles from getting together on runways was there.

Many things were discussed but here’s what should be of interest to pilots:

1. Moving map displays are a nice addition to any cockpit to help you reference location but remember to look outside.

2. If there’s even the slightest bit of uncertainty, verify with the tower that you are cleared to cross or enter a runway.

3. ALWAYS look even though you’ve been cleared to cross, takeoff or land – it’s saved me several times.

3. Distraction is deadly – avoid multi-tasking and don’t be programing the magic while the aircraft is moving unless there’s another pilot on board and one of you is looking outside.

4. Complacency is deadly – think it can’t happen to you ? Ask anyone of the roughly 900 pilots who had a deviation last year. They have a different opinion – now.

The good news is that for 2009 the A’s and B’s are down to about 12 but it’s too soon to tell if that’s due to reduced flight hours or that we’re starting to get a handle on this.

Runway Safety 2009If you have a runway safety suggestion, share it even for non-towered airports. It was only last week we were discussing traffic patterns there and check out the new runway safety course that FAA Office of Runway Safety was kind enough to sponsor. I guarantee you’ll learn something even if you’ve taken our earlier version. I did. If you’ve got a practical test or a flight review soon this is strongly recommended – chances are excellent inquiring minds will want to know.

Check out these additional ASF resources on Runway Safety:

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Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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