Risk of Collisions on Runways
There is an ongoing risk of aircraft colliding with vehicles or other aircraft on the ground at Canadian airports.
Airport operations require aircraft and vehicles to move between ramps, taxiways and runways. Sometimes this movement creates conflicts between aircraft, or between aircraft and vehicles. This can also happen when aircraft or vehicles mistakenly occupy an active take-off or landing area.
In a nine-year period from 2001 to 2009, there were 4140 of these conflicts, known as runway incursions, nationwide. Given the millions of take-offs and landings each year, incursions are rare, but their consequences can be catastrophic.
Since the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) first placed this issue on its Watchlist, the number of these occurrences has not decreased.
In 2010 there were 351, followed by another 446 in 2011. The Board continues to investigate these occurrences because the risk persists. There are ongoing efforts by both the industry and the regulator to share data and other information, and to improve local airport procedures; however more work in this area is required. In particular, few new technological defences have been seriously considered or implemented in Canada.
The TSB has made findings and reported publicly on the risk of collisions on runways. The Board remains concerned that incursions and the risk of collisions will continue until better defences are put in place.
Improved procedures and the adoption of enhanced collision warning systems are required at Canada’s airports.
Smart Pilot Remarks
Improved facilities and better technology is always helpful but the most effective tool that any pilot possesses in order to anticipate and avoid runway/taxiway incursions are their eyes, ears and experience. Making sure that the runway is clear is only half the battle but unfortunately this is where many pilots stop observing. Is the runway clear … “and is it likely to remain clear” is the question to be asked which will help to address this very important safety issue.