FSF risk-reduction tool kit addresses runway excursions

 - January 29, 2010, 5:34 AM

The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have released a runway excursion risk-reduction tool kit that provides analysis of runway excursion accident data, a compilation of significant risk factors and recommendations for operators, pilots, airports, air traffic management, air traffic controllers and regulators to help address the problem.

FSF president and CEO William Voss said the foundation created a runway safety initiative (RSI) to address the challenge of runway safety at the request of several international aviation organizations. The effort involved about 20 entities, including operators, manufacturers, air navigation service providers, pilot groups and various other industry associations.

Runway excursions are defined as an aircraft on the runway surface departing the end or side of the runway surface, and can occur on takeoff or landing. Briefing notes emphasize stabilized approaches and reducing the risk of flight crews landing long and fast, with a tailwind, on a contaminated runway.

After reviewing all areas of runway safety over the past 14 years, the RSI group focused on runway excursions and discovered that 97 percent of runway accidents are caused by excursions. It also found that over the past 14 years, there had been almost 30 excursions per year for commercial aircraft (more than 25 percent of all accidents).

“This was an international effort with participants representing the full spectrum of stakeholders from the aviation community,” Voss explained. “We wanted to reach out to the entire aviation community with the findings, and working with IATA to produce a tool kit containing this information made a great deal of sense, as it was one of the RSI participants.”

The RSI study also noted that although the percentage of excursions that included fatalities was low, the sheer number of excursions still meant that there were a high number of fatalities. Independent of the FSF effort, IATA’s Safety Group had identified runway excursions as a significant safety challenge to address.

The final report of the foundation’s RSI effort, titled “Reducing the Risk of Runway Excursions,” was released in June and provides data on runway accidents, notes the high-risk areas and provides interventions. The report is included in the Runway Excursion Risk Reduction tool kit, which can be ordered at www.flightsafety.org and www.iata.org.