Aviation/ Runway Incursion Problem term paper 7902

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On Jan., 1, 1999, at Los Angeles International airport, the pilots of a B-757 were cleared into position to hold on runway 24L. Another B-757 on final was cleared to land; the flight crew asked if the runway was occupied. The tower controller said no. On short final, the pilots of the landing B-757 spotted the airplane on the runway and began a go-around, missing the airplane on the runway by an estimated 150 feet vertically. (Duke, 14) Whether you fly a C-152 into Ellensburg or a B-757 into Las Angeles, you are susceptible to creating a runway incursion or suffering because of one.

The FAA defines a runway incursion as any occurrence at an airport involving an aircraft, vehicle, person, or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in loss of required separation from an aircraft taking off, landing, or intending to land. (Lounsbury, 11) In worst cases, incursions cause high speed ground collisions between two aircraft, such as the worst aviation disaster of all time two B-747s that collided in the Canary Islands 21 years ago. (Cortes, pars. 5) DOT statistics show an alarming increase in runway incursions. A 40 percent increase in the last five years. (Cortes, pars. 4) At this alarming rate, we as pilots should be concerned and make ourselves aware of the causes of runway incursions. By understanding the causes of runway incursions at uncontrolled airports, good communication and what technology advances the FAA and NASA are looking into we can start to have a better understanding of the runway incursion problem.

Pilots who visit uncontrolled airports such as the airport in Ellensburg have freedom from the Air Traffic Control system, but this freedom could come with a price. We as pilots look towards the Aeronautical Informational Manual (AIM) which predicts pattern and ground procedures at these uncontrolled airports. At these uncontrolled airports there are three main causes for incursions according to the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). (Cortes, pars. 9) CTAF misuse, visual clearing, and expectation bias are all reasons for runway incursions at uncontrolled airports.

Good use of the CTAF at uncontrolled airports is very important because of its ability to relay to other aircraft your position and intended course of action. ASRS reports show that not clearing on the radio, having the radio turned down or off, and frequency congestion are all leading causes to runway incursions. Good CTAF discipline is the key to preventing runway incursions at uncontrolled airports. (Cortes, pars. 10)

In addition to good use of the CTAF pilots should use adequate visual clearing. The AIM recommends many good procedures for visual clearing and have all been exposed to exercising these procedures. Have you ever thought of a runway that slopes upward from both sides? In calm wind situations aircraft could be landing or departing from both ends of the runway. This could cause for life threatening results due to VHF transmissions which are limited to line of sight making a probably used CTAF ineffective. Uses of good visual checks are necessary in this situation.

When landing at Ellensburg we are accustomed to multiple planes in the pattern. We are continuously behind other aircraft in the pattern that land and turn of the runway before we touch down. At least that is what we expect the preceding aircraft to do unless otherwise notified. This is our expectation bias, a natural by-product of the human psyche. (Cortes, pars. 12) Our brain tells us that the aircraft will be taxiing off the runway before we land, but in reality that airplane may continue down the runway and be in a position to have an incursion with you. We must be aware of the unexpected and be ready for these such instances by giving ourselves more room to execute a safe missed approach if need be.

When all three of these circumstances exist, misuse of CTAF, inadequate visual clearing, and relying on our expectation bias we can form a chain of events that can result in a near miss or an incursion it self. When in the en-route environment away from an uncontrolled airport or at a controlled airport we will be talking to ATC at some point. Good communications should be utilized when talking to ATC.

Communications are a huge issue at controlled and uncontrolled airports. To avoid incursions, flight crews must give air traffic control (ATC) communications top priority at all times."(Moore, 16) On the ground as a pilot or flight crew it is your sole responsibility to listen and to understand all of the instructions from ATC until after being clear of all runways.

Good communications with ATC comes from the use of standard phraseology, positive knowledge of ones call sign, and thinking before we talk. Captain Mack Moore from United Airlines says he constantly hears the words On the hold, and Poz and hold when it should be position and hold. (Moore, 16) By using the correct phraseology as pilots we can have a better understanding of what we each are doing to minimize confusion and misunderstanding. No one has developed standard phraseology for all radio communications, but using the standard phraseology we have is prudent.

(Moore, 17)

Having a clear understanding of who we are and the proper phraseology to be used we can avoid frequency congestion by being able to eliminating the words Ahh, Uhh (Moore, 1) The act of thinking about our radio communications as pilots can serve an important role in reducing frequency congestion which in turn could cause misinterpretations and runway incursions. Pilots that are making changes and taking precautions to avoid runway incursions should be aware that the FAA and NASA are too.

Today the FAA is working on technology to reduce runway incursions by being able to track and identify aircraft and other vehicles moving across the airport surface. The FAA has been trying to implement Airport Movement Areas Safety System (AMASS) software. It is several years behind because of software bugs and problems with the frequency of the alarms. Because of this the FAA hopes to use GPS navigation technology to create moving map displays along with surface display technology that provide an electronic moving heads up display. The technology is being developed at NASA s Langley Research Center in Hapton, VA. (Trimble, pars. 5) These technologies don t prevent incursions. Said Steve Zaidman, FAA associates for research and development. They alert air traffic controllers to a potential collision and provide them with about 20 seconds to react. (Trimble, pars. 13)

Aviation is growing and traffic is increasing and so are the risks of runway incursions. For example: five, six, and seven aircraft in close proximity to one another represent respectively, 10, 15, and 21 sets of potential conflict between two aircraft. That means the 20 percent increase of traffic from 5 to 6 means a 50 percent increase in potential conflicts. A 40 percent increase from 6 to 7 means a 110 percent increase. (Lounsbury, 11) As more planes are at the airports we know the treat of potential conflicts that could cause a runway incursion are also increasing.

By educating our selves of the flight and runway environment, practicing good communications to ATC and on the CTAF we can start to reduce the increasing amount of runway incursions. Being well educated, cautious and shur of our actions when flying we can reduce the risk of being in a runway incursion. As pilots we should be aware and support the efforts the FAA and NASA are doing to implement new technology to make a safer airport environment

Works Cited

Cortes, Tony Aircraft Runway Incursions-The Escalating Threat to You. Flying Safety http://www.afsc.saia.af.mil/magazine/htdocs/novmag98/ari.html.

Duke, Tom. 12 Very Serious Runway Incursions in 1999. Air Line Pilot March 2000: 14-15

Duke, Tom Runway Incursions Affect an Airline Pilot about Every Other Day. Air Line Pilot February 1999: 14-17

Lounsbury, Lincoln Why Little More Traffic makes a Lot More Runway Incursions. Air Line Pilot May 1999: 10-13, 54

Moore, Mack Awareness and Prevention. Air Line Pilot March 2000: 17-20

Trimble, Shaki FAA Tackles Runway Hazards. Federal Computer Week 7/3/2000 wysiwyg://33/http://www.fcw.com/fc 2000/0703/news-runway-07-03-00.asp.


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