May 1, 2017
Runway incursions are an increasingly more frequent issue that can catch an airman in a situation where they don't want to be. Out of roughly 80,000 daily operations in the National Airspace System, we are seeing an average of three runway incursions per day!
We have ever increasingly complex airspace, increasing traffic volume, and ATC is at a 28 year staffing low with a great deal of training being conducted. All these are factors can meet and get the unprepared pilot in a bad situation.
Looking at all runway incursions, 65% are caused by pilots. Of those, 75% are general aviation pilots. If a controller is the cause of the runway incursion, it is three times more likely to fall into the severe category.
With all of this in mind, here are some tools to keep you safer.
• Know the "hot spots" for airports you anticipate operating out of.
• Turn on your transponder for taxi (AIM 4-1-20)
• Use an airport diagram or electronic flight bag product to assist you in taxi
• Review your airport markings periodically, especially ones
that mean "stay off the runway." Inbound traffic can be going
several miles per minute.
• Be vigilant for situations where you are fatigued, under time pressure, distracted, unfamiliar with the airport, task saturated, conducting an unexpected or nonstandard procedure. These are situations that leave you much more likely to have a runway incursion situation.
• If you are told to line up and wait during night operations, line up slightly off center of the runway so your aircraft lights don't blend so much with the runway lights. It will make you more visible.
• If you are given a line up and wait clearance and spend more than 20 seconds on the runway waiting, be concerned. Remain extra vigilant. Your 6 o'clock is a blind spot that also happens to be a major focal point for traffic at an airport. Don't be afraid to check with the controller.
• There should never be another aircraft on a runway you are landing on. If there is, go around.
• Taxiway lights are blue. Runway lights are not. Do not land between blue lights.
• If you are unsure what to do, ask ATC. I can guarantee they would rather take the question than have to react to an unsafe situation because of a misunderstanding. Don't be afraid to ask for a "progressive taxi" where they guide you where you want to go.
• Know and have a reference for airport light gun signals.
• You must read back ALL hold short instructions.
• Use your call sign with EVERY transmission.