The control tower manager at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (KORD) published an airport notice effective August 19 that reminds pilots of locations where tower controllers are unable to see their aircraft after a “line up and wait” instruction is issued. These include the intersections of Runway 10L and Taxiway DD, Runway 32L and Taxiway T10, Runway 14L and Taxiway U2 and Runway 28R and Taxiway EE.
The FAA issued SAFO 13007, which warns pilots to use extra caution when taxiing on intersecting or active runways. “At many airports, it is common for ATC to use an active or inactive runway as a taxiway [to accommodate] airport geometry, construction, congestion or taxiway restrictions.”
A new fuel-saving and safety-focused aircraft taxi system is being tested at Frankfurt Airport (EDDF), Germany. The new taxi tool, called “follow the greens,” allows crews to add just enough power to taxi–without intermediate stops–to reach their airport destination. Controllers communicate the go/no-go signals to crews by turning on and off various portions of the airport’s green taxiway centerline lighting, which are also expected to help prevent runway incursions. Constant cockpit throttle positions are expected to save fuel.
The FAA’s newest runway safety enhancement tool, runway status lights (RWSLs), became operational on July 25 at Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). The new system uses a series of colored lights embedded in the runway and taxiway pavement to help prevent runway incursions by offering pilots and vehicle operators a simple visual system to determine whether it is safe to cross or enter a runway.
London Gatwick Airport has proposed construction of a second parallel runway. If construction of the new runway is given a green light, it is expected to create additional air traffic flexibility and system safety for both business and commercial aircraft operations. The Gatwick plan offers three potential runway configurations, the most flexible allowing simultaneous instrument approaches and departures on both runways. Politically, prospects for building the runway are tied up in the wider debate about possible future expansion of London Heathrow Airport.
The FAA recorded 1,150 runway incursions in the 12-month period ending September 30 last year across the U.S., and 18 of them were classified as “A” and “B,” the most serious of the four incursion categories. Some 772 of those incursions were pilot-induced.
Pilots flying into Aspen’s Pitkin County Airport (ASE) should be aware of FAA Notice NOTC4835, which addresses two safety issues at the field. The notice attempts to mitigate ongoing safety incidents at the Colorado airport involving aircraft, vehicles and pedestrians on runways and non-movement area. Outside the skiing season, the movement/non-movement area boundaryline was repositioned closer to Taxiway A4.
On June 27 construction concluded on an engineered materials arresting system (Emas) added to the new runway safety area (RSA) at the departure end of Boston Logan’s Runway 33L. The new crushable concrete system sits atop a 300-foot-wide concrete pier that extends nearly 500 feet into the water. The Emas itself covers an area 500 feet long and 170 feet wide.
Most of the resources to reduce runway incursions are already in place, according to the FAA’s group manager for runway safety, Jim Krieger, who believes the problem is well understood by pilots, controllers, airport managers and airport vehicle drivers. “Most of what we do now is evaluate an incursion after it occurs,” Krieger told AIN. “We need to look at all of the [data] outcomes and become more predictive about these events.
The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to examine the FAA’s Runway Safety Program in the light of a steadily increasing number of runway incursions and evaluate the agency’s progress in implementing initiatives to prevent further incursions.
Prevention of runway incursions and ground collisions has been on the NTSB’s “Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements List” since 1990.