Tag Archives: runway incursions

LAX gets runway status lights; system partially complete

From the Los Angeles Times:

Federal and local officials will unveil a new warning system today that is designed to stop runway incursions that for years have endangered planes taxiing to and from terminals at Los Angeles International Airport. [..]

[Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie] Lindsey said the Board of Airport Commissioners decided to pay for the warning system with airport revenue rather than wait for federal money — a move that allowed the signals to be installed almost three years earlier than they would have been.

Jon Russell, the western regional safety chairman for the Air Line Pilots Assn., said the new warning lights are a significant safety measure, but the devices need to be installed on all taxiways that intersect runways. He said lights were not put in some of the areas where close calls have occurred.

“This is a great starting point,” Russell said, “but the system is not complete.”

Given their budget constraints, FAA and LAX officials said they selected sites they thought had the greatest potential for collisions. If necessary, they said, lights can be added to other taxiways and runways in the future.

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Runway incursion at CLT; ASDE-X alerts controllers

The NTSB has released an incident report about a runway incursion between a CRJ-200 and a Pilatus PC-12 that happened at Charlotte-Douglas airport last week:

At about 10:17 a.m. on May 29, a PSA Airlines CRJ-200 regional jet operated as US Airways Express flight 2390, was cleared for takeoff on runway 18L. After the regional jet was into its takeoff roll, a Pilatus PC-12, a single engine turboprop aircraft, was cleared to taxi into position and hold farther down the same runway in preparation for a departure roll that was to begin at the taxiway A intersection. After the ground-based collision warning system (ASDE-X) alerted controllers to the runway incursion, the takeoff clearance for the regional jet was cancelled.
The pilot of the PC-12, seeing the regional jet coming down the runway on a collision course, taxied the PC-12 to the side of the runway. The FAA reported that the regional jet stopped approximately 10 feet from the PC-12.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the link to the NTSB press release archive isn’t yet available — we will update once they post the item.

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FAA convenes Runway Safety Council

The FAA, pursuing its stated goal of prioritizing runway safety, has convened a new expert group to develop a broad set of recommendations on the issue. (FAA press release). In the announcement, the agency is making it clear that it is empahsizing cultural change:

The goal of the council is to fundamentally change the existing safety culture and move toward a proactive management strategy that involves different segments of the aviation industry. [..]
A coordinated, systemic approach is necessary because serious runway incursions are seldom caused by a single factor. The current culture separates responsibility for incursions into different categories: operational errors by controllers, pilot deviations or vehicle or pedestrian deviations. Investigations into those incidents are conducted by different parts of the agency, depending on which category is responsible.

A laundry list of groups and associations are represented on the council, including NACTA, ALPA, ATA, AAAE, AOPA, NAFI, NBAA, and several others. For a deeper look at the state of U.S. runway safety including current statistics, check out the FAA’s fact sheet.

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Taxiing SkyWest jet collides with truck at O’Hare; 3 injured

Three people were injured at Chicago’s O’Hare airport early Saturday when a city maintenance truck collided with a United Express CL-600 regional jet, operated by SkyWest Airlines. The plane was being piloted by two maintenance workers on a closed runway when the accident occurred; no passengers were on board. The truck driver was listed in critical condition — more details in this article.

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FAA adds 3 new carriers to cockpit safety trial

The FAA has announced it will partner with three additional airlines for its upcoming cockpit safety initative, which focuses on Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and Aural Alerting technology. (FAA fact sheet). The newly added carriers are Atlas Air, CommutAir and Shuttle America, and the three will receive a combined total of $1.7 million in return for access to operational data. Last month, the FAA said it had reached agreements with US Airways, Southwest, SkyWest and Piedmont Airlines to take part in the same trial.

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[Update] ADS-B Air-to-Air capabilities

Updating my previous post, I had a chance to look at the FAA’s final Statement of Objectives (link to word doc here) related to the ADS-B Performance Requirments contract that will be awarded in the next six weeks. I have to be honest: Between the acronym soup and the agency-speak, it’s pretty hard to wade your way through the content.

Anyway, there are a few intriguing nuggets. For one, the following graph highlights the two very different goals of this project: (1) Make arrivals safer, and (2) promote ADS-B.

FAA has a need for acceleration of ADS-B air-to-air applications, specifically in the area of surface conflict detection and cockpit alert capabilities to reduce number of runway incursions with additional consideration of incorporating arrival applications.

These needs are consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board’s concern with runway safety and FAA’s desire to stimulate early adoption of ADS-B by the Airlines.

Another item of interest is the diagram explaining how the timelines of the two sponsoring organizations (FAA and RTCA) will intersect. Before looking at this diagram, I had not really appreciated how pivotal the RTCA’s role will be.

FAA/RTCA diagram

FAA/RTCA diagram

If I understand this correctly, the RTCA will provide a draft definition of the operational and environmental framework as it is understood today. Then, the vendor will develop the key components that, taken together, provide a complete conceptual solution for evaluating safety/hazard and system performance issues. It’s interesting that this entire phase of the project appears to be under the aegis of the RTCA.

One final note. According to the Statement of Objectives, all of this ground work is meant to come to fruition in February 2010 during a demonstration at a “medium to high density airport” of the vendor’s choosing. The vendor must expect to show system functionality for the following conditions:

  • Demo aircraft taxies on a taxiway toward a runway with high-speed converging conflict traffic.
  • Demo aircraft departs and conflict traffic enters the runway ahead of the demo aircraft.
  • Demo aircraft is on approach to a runway with conflict traffic on that runway so that a go-around is required.
  • Demo aircraft has landed on a runway and conflict traffic is entering the runway ahead of the demo aircraft.
  • Demo aircraft is taxiing on a runway and conflict traffic approaches the runway from behind.

It will be interesting to see which vendors step up to the plate, and how they will be aiming to differentiate themselves.

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Near miss: Fresno

Runway incursion in Fresno, Skywest jet vs. Piper Malibu, came within 15 feet.

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