Preventing Wrong Surface Incursions

Preventing Wrong Surface Incursions

  • June
  • 14
  • 2022
  • Advanced Aircrew Academy

In 1911, John Scott Haldane came up with the idea to use canaries as carbon monoxide detectors for miners. They decided upon that particular sentinel species as it was believed to be more sensitive to the colorless, odorless gas and could, therefore, serve as an early indicator to help save human lives in times of need. It wasn't until 1986 that this practice was abandoned due to the barbaric end for the birds, and instead, other automated practices thankfully took the birds' place.

Aviation, like coal mining, is a dangerous profession filled with risk. We don't necessarily have practices as horrific as the canaries fate, but sometimes, and perhaps even worse, it takes the loss of an aircraft or even a human life before we recognize the need to adjust our practices, procedures, or equipment. It doesn't have to be that way and in fact, the Federal Aviation Administration has recently and smartly updated our airport charts and diagrams to prevent one of the most common current incidents, wrong surface incursions.

The newly updated standardized symbols are designed to warn pilots of high-risk areas that experience greater numbers of incidents and accidents than other areas. In essence, it is an early warning tool much like use of the canary, though far more humane, and one that can potentially save aircraft and lives.

There are now cylinders on the charts to denote areas where pilots have often attempted to land on, or depart from, the wrong airport surface. This helps give pilots additional advance warning and suggest that we should remain extra diligent and aware of flight operations and procedures in those areas. Also, for eleven airports who have experienced high numbers of wrong surface events, there are new arrival alert notices (AAN) found in the chart supplement.

We recognize that pilots share a responsibility for diligence in all operations at all times, not simply in these newly denoted areas. Perhaps giving additional warning that there is an increased need for correct, timely, and accurate communication between the pilots and air traffic controllers for areas of higher risk is a solution that will have positive effects. The FAA has sadly recorded more than 1300 incidents of an aircraft landing on the wrong runway, taxi, or airport in the last five years alone. General aviation aircraft account for more than 80% of those incidents.

As expected, Advanced Aircrew Academy is one of the first business aviation training companies to update our courseware with these new changes in our Runway Incursion eLearning module. To get early, important training on these changes for your organization, contact us today and we will be happy to set you and your pilots up for success! Your people are not canaries and should not be treated as such. Take advantage of the early warning these changes have to offer. Recognize the growing risk and take proactive steps today to ensure that all of your personnel arrive home safe and sound every night with the aircraft tucked safely into a hanger.