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Situational Awareness; Test Your Runway Safety Knowledge!

from the Office of Runway Safety's Web site
Reprinted with permission from FAA Aviation News

A runway incursion is "any occurrence in the airport runway environment involving an aircraft, vehicle, person, or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of required separation with an aircraft taking off, intending to take off, landing, or intending to land."

In the FAA Flight Plan 2007-2011, the identification and reduction of runway incursion collision risks is one of its major safety objectives.

Situational awareness at airports is one way to reduce the risk of runway incursions resulting from errors by pilots, air traffic controllers, pedestrians, vehicle operators, and mechanics conducting aircraft taxi operations. The following questions are to test your knowledge of situational awareness. After you take the test, you will find the references and brief explanations of answers to these questions.

Questions:

1. The airport layout along with the runway and taxiway names can be found on a(n)_______________.

2. If you become uncertain of your location on the airport movement area, you should _______________.

3. If you are unfamiliar with the taxi routes at an airport, you should ask for _______________.

4. As you are crossing a runway, you notice that an aircraft at the approach end of the runway has turned on its landing lights. This means this aircraft has ______________.

Chose the correct answer:

A. Progressive taxi instructions
B. Airport diagram
C. Received a takeoff clearance
D. Vacate any runway you are occupying or stop the aircraft, if not on a runway, and contact ATC.

Further explanation of answers to the four questions can be found in: the "Pilot's Guide to Runway Safety" Booklet, Advisory Circular 91-73A, "Part 91 and Part 135 Single-Pilot Procedures During Taxi Operations," and Advisory Circular 120-74A, "Parts 91, 121, 125, and 135 Flight crew Procedures During Taxi Operations." These publications can be found on FAA's Web site at www.faa.gov.

The following are brief explanations of each answer.

1. The airport layout along with the runway and taxiway names can be found on a (B) airport diagram.

You should plan airport surface movement the same way you plan for other phases of your flight. Airport diagrams are one of the tools that you can use for this planning'they provide the layout of the airport, names of runways and taxiways, and show the location of major facilities on the airfield, which typically include the terminal(s), hangars, ramps, control tower (if applicable) and the fire station. You can use these diagrams to chart your anticipated taxi route and to review the taxi instructions once you receive them from ATC.

Airport diagrams can be obtained from various sources, including:

References:

  • Runway Safety Booklet, Page 5
  • AC 91-73A, Pages 3-4, Paragraph 8.b. (1). (a), Paragraph 8.b. (2). (b), and 8.b. (2). Note
  • AC 120-74A, Pages 3-4, Paragraph 6.b. (1). (a), Paragraph 6.b. (2). (b) and 6.b. (2). Note

2. If you become uncertain of your location on the airport movement area, you should (D) vacate any runway you are occupying or stop the aircraft if not on a runway, and contact ATC.

Pilots can become disoriented on the airfield for many reasons including poor visibility or distractions in the cockpit. If you become disoriented on the airfield, your first concern must be clearing any runway. Once your aircraft is stopped, the next step is to contact ATC and advise them of your situation. By providing ATC with information about your position such as signs, markings, and landmarks, they can help you determine your location and provide revised taxi instructions to get you to your destination on the airfield.

References:

  • Runway Safety Booklet, Page 9, yellow "tip" box
  • AC 91-73A, Pages 5, Paragraph 8.c. (2) Caution
  • AC 120-74A, Page 5, Paragraph 6.c. (2) Caution

3. If you are unfamiliar with the taxi routes at an airport, you should ask for (A) progressive taxi instructions.

If you want more detailed taxi instructions because of visibility conditions, as a personal preference or for any other reason, you can request progressive taxi instructions from ATC. When providing you with progressive taxi instructions, ATC will take you "step-by-step" through your taxi route. This should ensure you do not cross any taxiways or runways until they are clear for you to cross.

If you have been issued "taxi to" instructions from ATC, you may cross-intersecting runways and taxiways as you taxi to your destination on the airfield (take-off runway or gate), provided you did not receive instructions from ATC to "hold short" of any of them. Even though it is an approved procedure to cross these runways and taxiways without explicit permission from the tower, many pilots feel uneasy doing so and prefer more guidance. Requesting progressive instructions may make you feel sure that you do have permission to cross them. Even when you are cleared to cross, scan the full length of the runway and the approaches before entering or crossing any runway.

References:

  • Runway Safety Booklet, Page 9, yellow "tip" box
  • AC 91-73A, Page 9; Paragraph 8.f. (5)
  • AC 120-74A, Page 10; Paragraph 6.g. (5)

4. As you are crossing a runway, you notice that an aircraft at the approach end of the runway has turned on its landing lights. This means this aircraft has (C) received a takeoff clearance.

Illuminating aircraft lights can make your aircraft more conspicuous and can "tell" other pilots, ATC, and others on the airfield your current situation. Different combinations of illuminated lights tell others that your aircraft has its engine(s) on, is taxiing, is crossing a runway, entering the departure runway for position and hold, that you have received your take-off clearance (at a towered airport), or that you are beginning your takeoff roll (on an un-towered airport). These various types of lights have different functions'some help with navigation of the aircraft while others convey information.

When your aircraft enters the departure runway for position and hold, all aircraft lights should be illuminated except for the landing lights. Once you receive your takeoff clearance or begin your takeoff roll, you should turn your landing lights on as an indication to other pilots, ATC, and ground personnel that the aircraft is moving down the runway. Note: Use of lights in this manner is an advisory procedure, so not all pilots may adhere to this guideline.

References:

  • Runway Safety Booklet, Page 12, last bullet.
  • Runway Safety Booklet, Page 13, Lighting Table
  • AC 91-73A, Pages 12-13, Paragraph 10.b. (4). Note and 19.b. (5)
  • AC 120-74A, Page 15, Paragraph 8.b. (5) and Paragraph 8.b. (5). Note