International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: Runway

Runway? Who needs one when you have a taxiway!

It’s happened again.

Around midnight on a perfectly clear night last week in Riyadh, a Jet Airways 737 tried to take off on a taxiway. The crew mistaking a new taxiway for a runway!

The crew, with thousands of hours experience, took off on a surface that didn’t have runway markings or runway lights. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt.  It’s too early to exactly say why this happened, but it’s clear that some sort of “expectation bias” was a factor. Expecting to make the first left turn onto the runway. One has to ask – was ATC monitoring the take off?

After the tragic Singapore 747 accident in Taipei, technology was developed to audibly notify crew if they were about to depart “ON TAXIWAY”. This is known as the Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS).

Sadly the Riyadh incident is not isolated. There have been a plethora of near misses in the past few years (more details in Extra Reading below).

There have also been more than a few “incidents” of aircraft from C17’s to 747s landing at the wrong airports! The most notable near miss recently was that of an Air Canada A320 nearly landing on a taxiway full of aircraft at KSFO/San Francisco. But it’s happened to Delta and Alaskan Air recently too.

It is an even bigger issue at a General Aviation level (and not just because Harrison Ford did it!). The FAA safety team recently noted;

The FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) has advised of an increase in, “Wrong Surface Landing Incidents” in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Incidents include:

  • Landing on a runway other than the one specified in the ATC clearance (frequently after the pilot provides a correct read back)
  • Landing on a Taxiway
  • Lining up with the wrong runway or with a taxiway during approach
  • Landing at the wrong airport

The FAA published some shocking statistics:

  • 557wrong surface landing/approach events” between 2016-2018. That’s one every other day!
  • 89% occurred during daylight hours
  • 91% occurred with a visibility of 3 statue miles or greater


So what to do?

There are numerous ‘best operating practices’ pilots can use to help avoid such incidents.

  • Be prepared! Preflight planning should include familiarization with destination and alternate airports to include airport location, runway layout, NOTAMs, weather conditions (to include anticipated landing runway)
  • Reduce cockpit distractions during approach and landing phase of flight.
  • Use visual cues such as verifying right versus left runways; runway magnetic orientation; known landmarks versus the location of the airport or runway
  • Be on the lookout for “Expectation Bias” If approaching a familiar airport, ATC might clear you for a different approach or landing runway.  Be careful not to fall back on your past experiences.  Verify!
  • Always include the assigned landing runway and your call sign in the read back to a landing clearance
  • Utilize navigation equipment such as Localizer/GPS (if available) to verify proper runway alignment

It’s worth spending a few minutes watching this.

Extra Reading

 

Bad NOTAMS = Runway overruns in Hamburg

If you’re headed to Hamburg, watch out. The runway is shortened, and the Notams are vague.

Poorly written NOTAMs struck again this week in Hamburg, Germany, when an A320 and a B737 both overran Runway 05 on landing – the first by SAS on May 11  and the second by Ryanair on May 15.

Runway 05 in EDDH/Hamburg has been undergoing works and a litany of related NOTAMs and AIP SUP were issued to explain.

A1608/18 – RWY 05 LDA 2370M. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 05 APR 09:50 2018

A1605/18 – SHORTENED DECLARED DISTANCES FOR RWY 05/23. AIP SUP IFR 09/18 REFERS. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 05 APR 09:42 2018

A2223/18 – TWY A1, A3, A4, A5 CLOSED. 02 MAY 10:26 2018 UNTIL 01 JUL 04:00 2018. CREATED: 02 MAY 10:27 2018

A2044/18 – ILS RWY 05 NOT AVBL. AIP SUP IFR 09/18 REFERS. 23 APR 09:17 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 23 APR 09:17 2018

A1725/18 – CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT IN DEP SECTOR ALL IFR DEPARTURES RWY 05. PSN WITHIN AN AREA 533810N 0095948E AND 533805N 0100023E. MAX ELEV 89 FT. NOT MARKED AND LIGHTED. SUP 09 2018, CONSTRUCTION WORK EDDH REFER. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 20:00 2018. CREATED: 09 APR 13:10 2018

A1609/18 – RWY 23 CLOSED FOR ARR. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 05 APR 09:52 2018

Despite this, both were unable to stop before the last open exit (A6) and vacated further down the runway. Thankfully both resulted in no injury because all construction equipment was kept clear of, and beyond, taxiway E6.

A better NOTAM may have been:

RWY 05 IS SHORTER THAN USUAL DUE TO CONSTRUCTION WORK AT 23 END. REDUCED LANDING DISTANCE IS 2370M. LAST TAXIWAY OPEN FOR EXIT IS A6. CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT ON RUNWAY BEYOND TAXIWAY A6. 

You get the idea. Concise and plain language in one NOTAM to make it clear what the issue is and the consequences of going beyond 2370m of runway.

They did, to their credit, try and tidy it up since the incidents:

A2563/18 – RWY 05 CLSD EAST OF TWY A6. RWY 05 LDA 2370M. RWY 05 NON STANDARD TDZ AND AIMING POINT MARKINGS AT 400M FM THR ISO 300M. ADJUST LDG PERF ACCORDINGLY. 17 MAY 16:30 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 17 MAY 16:31 2018

In another serious incident associated with these runway works, a Vueling A320 (another foreign operator) nearly landed at the wrong airport on May 11. Thankfully ATC intervened on that one.

All incidents are now the subject of investigation.

Naturally it’s imperative for crew and disptachers to check and read all NOTAMS thoroughly. But with over 40 current just for EDDH/Hamburg right now, it’s easy to understand why things get missed.

Until then “adjust landing performance accordingly”.

Extra Viewing:

RWSL: Red Means STOP!

As you may know, the FAA is working on Runway Status Lights (RWSL). It’s a new system that’s live at 20 airports in the US. Basically, you get a nice set of red lights (embedded in the ramp) that tell you whether it’s safe or not to proceed. These lights are installed (or placed or located) at the entrance of the runway and at the start of takeoff. If any of these lights are red, you don’t go. Simple as that.

Diagram of RWSL

These lights are fully automated and completely independent of ATC, which means they do not have a clue if the lights are red or not. This is intentional. If you get clearance from ATC, and you see red lights, the red lights take precedence over the controller. The FAA has issued SAFO17011, stating:

There have been several instances at RWSL airports where flightcrews have ignored the illuminated red in-pavement RWSL lights when issued a clearance by Air Traffic Control (ATC). Illuminated RWSLs mean aircraft/vehicles stop or remain stopped and contact ATC for further direction, relaying to ATC that the RWSLs are illuminated.

This system will be expanding throughout the United States, and you can read more about the system here: FAA Runway Status Lights.

Runway Damage at Manila

The main runway at RPLL/Manila, RWY 06/24, was closed on Monday 18JUL after heavy rain caused large chunks of asphalt to disintegrate. One of the last aircraft to land, shown below, suffered damage to an inboard flap section.

At least 10 flights diverted to Clark International Airport (RPLC/CRK), 50nm northwest of the city.

The runway was tentatively reopened on Tuesday, but consideration to future similar issues should be given, if further rain occurs.

Flaps Damage

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