Runway & Taxiway Incursions: Risks, Consequences, and Avoidance

Runway & Taxiway Incursions – Risks, Consequences, and Avoidance

Runway and Taxiway Incursions – Associated Risks and Consequences – Video Transcript

Hi there, and welcome back. My name is Beth Brown and I’m a check instructor here at AeroGuard Flight Training Center at our Deer Valley location in Phoenix, Arizona.

Today, I want to talk about runway incursions for this week’s training video. Along with general safety, this is a special emphasis item for all of your check rides, and it’s just something we all want to avoid in general. Have you ever heard of anyone on radios maybe not following ATC instructions? I remember witnessing during my training, there was a Pilatus and it ran into the wing of a Cessna at a controlled airport and I was wondering, how does this even happen? So in this video, we’re going to talk and discuss about, what are runway incursions, what are some associated risks and consequences involved, such as like a deviation or an incident, and some unique challenges presented to you on the ground that allow for incursions to happen, and of course we’re going to talk about how to avoid incursions by briefing and having a plan while taxiing.

Runway & Taxiway Incursions

All right, so what is a runway incursion? Well, it’s the incorrect presence of an aircraft, a vehicle, or a person, on the protected area of a runway. We also have taxiway incursions and they’re similar just on the taxi area. Imagine how dangerous it could be if you were holding short of a runway, and you took the active while an aircraft was landing! Or what if you were lined up and waiting on the runway, you got a clearance, you added full power to take off, but another aircraft taxied across the runway?! Well, the consequences would be grave for these scenarios, and they can be avoided by following proper ATC instruction, proper radio communication at uncontrolled fields, and also, you’ve got to look outside the aircraft for traffic.

So, a lesser consequence of an incursion would be, other than a collision, would be a pilot deviation, and no one wants a deviation following them around. A deviation is when the action of a pilot results in a violation of a federal aviation regulation. Has ATC ever given you a number to call? Or have you heard someone being given a number? The chances are, that pilot was receiving a pilot deviation. A pilot deviation, it never goes away and it’s something you will have to explain to all future employers regardless of who is at fault.

Factors & Challenges

There are certain factors and challenges that contribute to the likelihood of an incursion happening. Well, being at an airport for one. Airports have specific areas and ways to navigate around and they can be pretty confusing, especially if you’ve never been to that airport before. Perhaps there’s construction happening with taxi and ramp closures along with the construction barricades. I know here at Deer Valley, my home airport, we’ve been under construction all summer long. They’ve been building us a new taxiway and this new taxiway, it’s really going to help us with our traffic flow and that’s great, but the process has definitely kept me on my toes. We’ve had new taxi routes due to this construction almost weekly with ramp closures and taxiway closures. I can see how easy it would be to have an incursion if you were not paying attention.

Then there’s hot spots. Those can be an issue too. A hot spot is an area identified as having a history of potential, or actual incursions, or collisions. Hot spots are identified on your taxi diagram and they have little numbers beside them, and then you can go and look them up and see what those specific hazards are for that area. You can look these areas up in section 5 of your chart supplement. I like to look them up in foreflight. If you go to the procedure section, there’s an airport tab and a hot spot tab. There’s lots of other reasons that contribute to incursions: expectation bias, misunderstanding ATC instructions, and distractions in the cockpit.

Mitigating Risks

There are several ways you can mitigate these risks. Using a taxi diagram, briefing, and keeping your eyes outside the cockpit, those are the main ways that you can maintain your situational awareness. Personally, I write down my ATC instructions and then I draw a line on my taxi diagram. This helps me to visualize where I’m going. Along with drawing my taxi route, I also make sure to brief the route for myself and for my crew, and then we can confirm that we both understand and agree to the taxi route. Avoiding distractions by keeping your eyes outside of the cockpit. So, I never do checklists while taxiing or programming avionics and I practice a sterile cockpit. If you don’t understand ATC instructions, just ask them to repeat, and then if you still don’t understand, you can ask for a progressive taxi. A progressive taxi is when ATC follows you visually and they provide you a turn-by-turn instruction, and it’s important to apply these procedures when you’re landing at an unfamiliar airport too.

During preflight, make sure you review your airport diagrams and know where you are going before you land. Being familiar with signs and markings and airport lighting. this is also going to help you avoid a runway incursion. Some of the most important signs are going to be your runway holding position signs and markings, and this is where it tells you to hold short of the runway or taxiway. Along with non-movement boundaries, destination, and location signs, when you’re operating at night, make sure you’re familiar with your airport lighting. Make sure you know that the blue lights are for taxiways and the white are for the runways. This way, you don’t accidentally take off on a taxiway.

You can learn more about these signs and markings in the runway incursion avoidance section of your PHAK (pilot’s handbook of aeronautical knowledge) or in the AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual). The FAA also has a runway safety pilot simulator, and this can help you apply what you’ve learned about airport markings. So, in summary, make sure you have a plan as to where you want a taxi on takeoff and landing. Communicate with ATC, follow their instructions, and know your signs and markings. Thanks for watching and subscribing, and if you want to comment below let us know about some topics you want us to cover in our upcoming videos. We’ll catch you next time.

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