Safety Alerts Focus On Runways


The FAA and NTSB both issued safety alerts recently that warn pilots to use proper procedures when operating on runways. The NTSB (PDF) cites several accidents when pilots chose an intersection takeoff to save time, and then lost power. In each case, if the pilot had used the entire available runway, there would have been room for a safe landing straight ahead. Instead, all three aircraft crashed, and two people were killed. The safety board advises pilots to use all available runway length to increase the margin of safety on every takeoff. The FAA’s Safety Alert for Pilots (PDF) also concerns runway operations, reminding pilots and airport workers about the correct procedures for using runway status lights.

The lights are a fully automated system intended to prevent runway collisions, the FAA says, but it cited several instances when pilots ignored the lights after they were issued a clearance to cross or take off from that runway. The FAA says the RWSL system operates independently from ATC, and controllers have no information regarding the status of the lights. Illuminated RWSLs mean aircraft should stop or remain stopped, inform ATC that the RWSLs are illuminated and wait for further direction. “Failure to comply with illuminated red in-pavement RWSL lights may result in a high-risk collision Runway Incursion event,” the FAA said.