United States National Airspace System (NAS) has forecasted that risk for runway incursion can kill hundred and thousand of people in just a single accident which is day by day growing even more. Luckily, a number of experts have studied for incursion problem as a result a lot of solutions have been devised that can lessen up the risk that is inherent with ground. Although, implementation of most of the solutions are very slow in process. Two deadliest accidents that take place in runway incursion are “controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and midair clash. A number of midair conflicts have resulted into hundreds of deaths that have occurred at the time when pilot relied only on ground based radar and avoided to use techniques for the required severance amid the aircrafts.
However, Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) has prepared the pilots that notifies them on for a collision that can take place plus it gives necessary instructions to avoid it. Accidents occurred due to CFIT has also caused thousands of deaths during the time period when pilots relied only on charts, radar and visual references of ground to uphold the clearance of low visibility conditions from the ground in such times. Implementation of ground proximity warning system (GPWS) and a newer version of GPWS known as EGPWS or in other words TAWS have shown effective results for the reduction of CFIT midair clashes. Though, there is still a need of training, implementation of existing technologies and awareness to prevent accidents that are being ignored until few highly profiled accidents took place.
According to FAA, the definition of runway incursion is the incidence that occurs in the environment of airport runway that involves any vehicle, aircraft, a person or an object on the ground generates hazards and results into the loss of separation such as taking off an aircraft, landing an aircraft or planning to land the aircraft. This definition is only applied within air traffic control towers located at airports. Reasons for such a collision of aircraft are categorized by FAA in the following ways:
1) Occurrence of operational error or OE results to collision of at least 2 aircrafts due to any kind of equipment, vehicle etc plus landing or departing of aircraft on a runway closed to another aircraft even after receiving instructions from air traffic control towers.
2) PD (pilot deviation) of a pilot leads into destruction of Federal Aviation Regulation
3) Deviation of any kind of movement such as operator of aircraft who is not a pilot without the receiving authorities from ATC.
Due to some evidence regarding an increase in traffic jamming directs to an increase of possible runway incursion. FAA has forecasted that aircraft operation of IFR will increase three percent annually which will include 47.5 million aircrafts in 2005 and 67.7 million in 2017. According to the reason mentioned above it is clear that the number of incursion will potentially increase by time until and unless some highly effective solutions are put in place to solve this problem.
Runway incursions at times can be extremely disastrous. As recorded, the most terrible runway incursion took place in 1977 at Canary Islands, Spain. Two B-747s clashed together and caused 583 deaths. Ever since 1990, about five deadly runway incursions caused accidents that consist of airliners in United States. Each of these runway incursions received wide media coverage as a result it caused public debate for the protection of aviation in United States. In United States, the most fatal runway incursion occurred in 1991 at Los Angeles International Airport when an aircraft bumped into a turboprop on the runway. This accident almost killed thirty four people. Recently, in July 2006, another deadly accident was about to occur but luckily it did not took place by a distance of 35 feet. Incident was some what like the following: a B-747 landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and intersected with B-737 aircraft with five crewmembers and almost 120 passengers that was ready to take off. Another incident like this happened at Los Angeles International Airport where a small jet airliner landed and came into the path of a turboprop airliner but it missed the jet by 150 feet. Such events are widely publicized by media and are reminders for a possible disaster that is undeniable when separation of aircraft to aircraft reduces its speed level. Changes are therefore required for the current situation in aviation sector.
In United States when FAA initial Runway Incursion Plan was introduced in 1991, the organization itself devoted a number of resources to reduce the possibilities for incursions. Plan and its amendments were published in 1993, 1995 and 1998 where an in-depth projects and programs were considered to decrease runaway incursions. A government federation namely CAST employed the Runway Incursion Joint Safety Analysis Team (RIJSAT) in 1998 that produced a report regarding incursions in 2000. This report consisted of 115 tactics to demolish runway incursion risk. FAA office then circulated Blueprint of 2002 – 2004, second edition, which was same like the recommendations of RIJSIT report. In 2000, CAST directly controlled the FAA runway safety office’s runway safety blueprint and represented as corporate approach of FAA to lessen up the incursions. Additionally, NTSB also issued recommendation to FAA to reduce runway incursion risks even since 1973. Some of these recommendations were applied and some were not. NTSB also issued a Special Investigation Report (SIR) in 1986 which consisted of details regarding runway incursion. SIR also consisted of few additional recommendations for FAA and it also enclosed a number of topics. Things like standardized ATC, pilot training, aircraft conspicuity, marking and signage contributed to the runway incursion risks for over thirty years. Five accident that took place in United States resulted into forty eight recommendations to FAA that were applied while other recommendations were previously issued. Currently, FAA has worked on a number of recommendations advised by NTSB that includes a lot of safety improvements but are still under consideration. Many reports were generated by a number of agencies since 1991 such as the Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee’s Subcommitte on Runway Incursions and Runway Incursion Task Force. However, Runway Incursion Action Teams were also introduced by the government that are responsible for FAA management system, pilots, airport operations and control for air traffic. (Shari Stamford Krause, 2003)
FAA has worked on many policies that have been accomplished and have showed positive results in several years. A great deal of work was done to develop standards for aviation was safety management systems (SMS). It provides an influential approach to avoid risk and to manage safety in air transportation system. FAA has been moving towards SMS approach to regulate in this sect. Much of risk posed by incursions is reduced due to CAST with a mixture of situational awareness and capability of conflict alerting technologies during operations on ground. To reduce runway incursions, FAA has shown a number of efforts such as line painting and fixing lights at airport. Runway now looks more different than turning towards taxiway and this has lessened up the problem. Different training techniques for pilots has been introduced and implemented as well. However, pilots do receive thorough training to reduce such incidents. But if U.S airline crew is examined that has been working for more than forty years still make errors and most of these errors are real dangerous. Fundamental development of aircraft system done by FAA is a map that shows the aircraft on an airport like diagram, if aircraft will deviate a beeper will make a sound, a screen for ground management controlling purpose that shows all the routes for different aircraft and a consistent communication with ground controllers. (Adam Rhodes, 2008). FAA nowadays is continuously reviewing traffic control process to increase safety. Majority of FAA workforce is made up of air traffic controllers. According to FAA, controllers sometimes can get distracted thus equipments has been placed up so that the controller can properly keep an eye on taxiways and runways. A number of systems have been installed within the control tower to monitor aircraft particularly while they are landing. In 2005 and 2006, over 1,075 controllers were hired by FAA which includes the AFSS (Automated Flight Service Station) specialist. Training of FAA controllers and other staff members has been implemented and it is day by day continuously improving. Hiring that connects to academic training and facilities for training has being avoiding regarding training blockage for both field facilities and academy. Instructors that are hired through a contract are given the facilities to enhance the training offered by CPC workers. In this way, approach of cost effectiveness has been proved for giving training facilities. Throughout 2005, capabilities of agency has been expanded and improved by cutting down the required time for training for controllers to attain CPC designation. Although, it is very difficult to meet long term hiring procedure and training both for controllers still working on controller workforce plan and is forcefully managing its expenditures. However, in 2004, a plan was introduced by FAA namely A Plan for Future which consisted of a 10 year strategy plan for control workforce. The plan outlined hiring and training of controller’s workforce plus it mentioned FAA initiatives for staff saving through efficiencies of the workforce. According to FAA the plan will be updated each year due to controller retirement issue and many other factors. (Federal Aviation Administration, 2006).
It is necessary for pilots and air traffic controllers to pursue protocols for communications when they are working any where in airstrip especially in runway and taxiway environment. Major keys to prevent runway incursion is giving attention to all the necessary details and awareness of the situation.
Shari Stamford Krause (2003), Aircraft Safety: Accident Investigations, Analyses, and Applications. McGraw-Hill Professional
Adam Rhodes (2008), Runway Incursions. Air Traffic Control – Aviation Information, Accessed on November 18, 2008 from http://www.stuckmic.com/faa-rules-regulations/519-runway-incursions.html
Federal Aviation Administration (2006), A Plan for the Future 2006-2015. The Federal Aviation Administration’s 10-Year Strategy for the Air Traffic Control Workforce. Accessed on November 18, 2008 from http://gns.gannettonline.com/misc/wfplan.pdf