Danger on the Runway

Transcript

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Death toll hits 118 in runway collision

Milan, Italy
October, 2001

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On a foggy morning in October, Two thousand and one, a Cessna Citation strays onto the active runway at Milano-Linate (Lee-naw-tay) Airport, Italy.

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Pilot error suspected in Milan accident

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The Citation is hit by a McDonnell Douglas MD-87 that's been cleared for takeoff. One hundred and eighteen people die.

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737 avoids runway collision: crashes

Cranbrook, Canada
February, 1978

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Cranbrook, British Columbia, February, Nineteen Seventy-eight: a Seven-three-seven attempts a late go- around to avoid a snowplow on the runway and crashes.

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Cranbrook crash claims forty-two

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Forty-two people die.

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Hundreds perish in Tenerife disaster

Tenerife, Canary Islands
March, 1977

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March, Nineteen Seventy-seven: two Seven-Four- Seven's collide on a runway in Tenerife, the Canary Islands

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583 dead in B747 collision

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Five hundred and eighty-three passengers and crew die, making this runway incursion the worst accident in aviation history.

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Danger on the Runway

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Disaster is as close on the ground as it is in the air. A runway incursion is any occurrence involving the unauthorized or unplanned presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for aircraft landings or departures. Runway incursions are a very real danger. And they're occurring with increased frequency at aerodromes across Canada.

This program uses examples from real-life situations to demonstrate some of the common errors that can lead to runway incursions.

And it shows what steps you can take to avoid a runway incursion.

An airport can be a confusing place, especially at night or in poor visibility.

The pilot of this Cessna is unfamiliar with the airport layout, and visibility is poor. He didn't learn the airport layout during his pre-flight preparations, and now he's trying to follow a chart while taxiing.

He's not watching where he's going, and he's taxiing too fast for the conditions.

Ground controller:

Cessna one-five-five runway three-two, taxi via Golf, left on Bravo. Hold short, runway zero-seven.

Cessna pilot:

Um, thirty-two, Golf, Bravo, hold short of zero-seven; Cessna one-five-five.

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Ground control has instructed him to taxi for runway three-two. This involves crossing runway zero-seven. He's been told to hold short.

Tower controller:

North Air seven-two, winds zero-five-zero at 8, cleared to land, runway zero-seven.

North Air pilot:

Roger, North Air seven-two.

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North Air seven-two is cleared to land on runway zero-seven.

Unsure of his position, the Cessna pilot doesn't realize he's about to cross an active runway.

Distracted and uncertain of his position, this pilot almost taxis into the path of a landing aircraft.

Flight service specialist:

Trans Air two-seven-five, active runway one-four, winds calm, altimeter two-niner-niner-three.

Trans Air pilot:

Roger, Trans Air two-seven-five, we are two miles on final for one-four.

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It's not only aircraft that can wander onto an active runway.

Driver:

Truck two-zero leaving garage for Air Eastern hangar.

Flight service specialist:

Truck two-zero, proceed via Bravo, Charlie, Echo. Hold short of runway one-four, traffic on final.

Driver:

Um, roger. Bravo, Echo, Charlie, hold short of one-four; truck two-zero.

Flight service specialist:

Truck two-zero, that's Charlie, Echo.

Driver:

Roger.

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The driver of this truck doesn't understand the directions he's been given by the Flight Service Specialist. He thinks he'll annoy him by asking for clarification.

The Flight Service Specialist hears the uncertainty in the driver's messages, but he assumes the driver is fully aware he's approaching the active runway, and that there is an aircraft on final.

Pre-occupied with finding his way, the vehicle operator rolls through the hold line at runway one-four.

Flight service specialist:

Truck two-zero, get off the runway. Now!

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This time, the Flight Service Specialist noticed the truck approaching the runway, but it could be a different story at night or in poor visibility.

Tower controller:

Express three-five-two-five, taxi to position runway Six Left.

Dash 8 captain:

To position six left, Express three-five-two-five.

Ground controller:

Citation Bravo seven-seven, contact Tower on one-one- eight point nine. Good day.

Citation first officer:

Tower on one-one-eight point nine for Citation Bravo- seven-seven. Good day.

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The Citation crew is behind schedule and in a hurry to take off. Because of this, they've misheard their taxi instructions. Instead of taxiing to the end of Six-Left, they believe they're to cross Six-Left and proceed to Six-Right.

They're approaching a mid-point intersection and are about to enter the active runway.

The tower controller has landing traffic, and wants to expedite Express three-five-two-five's take off.

Tower controller:

Tannair seven-niner, continue number one for runway six left, traffic on the roll.

Express three-five-two-five, winds zero-seven-zero at six, cleared for take off, Runway Six Left.

Dash 8 captain:

Cleared for take off runway Six Left, Express three-five- two-five.

Citation first officer:

Tower, Citation bravo-seven-seven with you on taxiway Delta for six right.

Tower controller:

Citation bravo-seven-seven, say again your position?!

Is this Citation on Delta or Charlie?

Ground controller:

He's on Delta – at six-left!!

Tower controller:

Citation bravo-seven-seven, Stop! Hold your position!

Dash 8 captain:

Hey!!! Tower! We just missed a small jet on Six Left!!!

Tower controller:

Tannair seven-niner pull up and go around, traffic on the runway. Citation Bravo seven-seven, exit runway six-left immediately.

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Fortunately, Express three-five-two-five is able to lift off and clear the Citation. Had it not, history has taught us that the outcome could have been deadly.

Distractions, uncertainty, poor visibility, miscommunication, and working under pressure: These are the conditions that can set the stage for a runway incursion.

Prevention is everyone's responsibility. Pilots, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, and vehicle operators should use common sense, and follow some basic safety procedures:

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1) Avoid cockpit distractions

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Avoid distractions in the cockpit while taxiing, like running through checklists or engaging in unnecessary conversation. Remember: a safe flight is from gate to gate.

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2) Be vigilant in marginal visibility

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Be particularly vigilant at night or in poor visibility. Look out for other traffic, and watch carefully for airport signage.

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3) Know the airport

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Become familiar with airport layout and taxiway designations. Make this a part of your pre-flight preparations.

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4) Report poor signage and markings

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Report faded or missing signage and markings to ground control.

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5) Listen carefully to and repeat instructions

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Listen carefully for instructions over the radio and read-back all hold-short instructions.

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6) Use clear communications

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Avoid ambiguous communications, and…

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7) Don't make assumptions

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…make sure the person you're speaking to understands what you've said.

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8) If in doubt, ask

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Don't be afraid to ask for help or a repeat if you're not sure.

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9) Be patient, and keep your cool

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Delays happen – be patient, and keep a cool head.

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10) Be helpful

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If you think a pilot or vehicle operator is lost or unsure of their position, offer assistance…

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11) Be courteous

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…and always be courteous and professional in your communications.

Runway incursions happen when you're distracted, when you're stressed, or when you're unsure of what you're doing.

Almost always, the direct cause of a runway incursion is miscommunication. So whether you're job is on the ground, in the tower, in a flight service station or in the air; use clear and proper terminology, listen carefully, and always remain courteous.

Let's work together to make Canadian aerodromes safe and efficient places to operate, because...runway incursions are real.

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Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada as represented by the Minister of Industry Canada, 2002

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