In a report released this week, the DOT Inspector General has found that runway status lights (RWSL) are “a viable technology” for preventing runway incursions. However, it said this technology is still in the early stages of implementation, meaning much work remains before the FAA can achieve full deployment.
Honeywell has started demonstrating an optional software upgrade to its enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) that is intended to curb runway incursions and improve airport safety. Called the runway awareness and advisory system (RAAS), the software-only modification uses the EGPWS unit’s internal database of runways and GPS-derived position to increase pilot situational awareness during taxi, takeoff and landing.
Waterbury/Oxford Airport (OXC), Conn., is expecting to take another giant step forward next year. The growing business-aviation airport is scheduled to begin a runway extension to 5,800 feet from its current length of 5,000 feet. The airport recently received a contract tower and has ILS, GPS and Rnav approaches.
The FAA has selected Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) to test high-intensity laser lights designed to prevent runway and taxiway incursions. The lights are one of seven projects under way nationwide to help control ground traffic at airports. The lights are designed to augment the four yellow “hold” lines painted on the pavement. In poor visibility, the lasers make the lines stand out more prominently.
On November 28 a third runway with Cat IIIa ILS approaches at both ends became operational at Helsinki-Vantaa (Finland) Airport. Capacity at the airport is expected to double after terminal operations move to a site between the two main parallel runways. With the new runway, the airport can handle up to 50 operations per hour. Plans to move the operations center are being evaluated, based on traffic flow.
One of the FAA’s less publicized programs to increase airport capacity is the gradual introduction of the precision runway monitor (PRM). Currently commissioned at Minneapolis, St. Louis and Philadelphia, and soon to come online at San Francisco and New York JFK, the PRM allows aircraft to make simultaneous independent approaches to closely spaced dual or triple parallel, or dual converging, runways.
U.S. Customs has decided not to continue the General Aviation Telephonic Entry (GATE) program, which was designed to facilitate customs processing of certain prequalified travelers on preregistered general aviation aircraft arriving in the U.S. from Canada. The program was under test operation until it was shut down after 9/11.
The runway resurfacing project at Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas, is complete, and operations resumed there on November 30. The airport was closed for a month during the project, which added 12 inches of new concrete overlay on 7,001-foot Runway 17/35 and three inches of new asphalt on the taxiway to allow operation of heavier airplanes.
Pilots flying to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and San Diego Lindbergh Field might notice unusual runway status lights that warn of possible conflicting traffic. The systems have been in place since 2005 at DFW and 2006 at Lindbergh, but the FAA recently awarded contracts to upgrade the status light test systems and to install them at more airports with complex configurations.
Cessna CitationJet 525, Memphis, Tenn., Oct. 11, 2007–The NTSB concluded that the cause of this incident was the pilot’s inadvertent departure from a taxiway at Memphis International instead of a runway, despite the tower’s twice warning the pilot he was taking off from the taxiway.