The FAA has released a runway incursion report, which shows that while the number of incursions has increased, the actual risk of collision remains remote. In fact, 81 percent of the incursions during the study period (1997 to 2000) were considered minor with little risk of an accident. Of the more than 266 million operations at towered airports between 1997 and 2000, 1,369 led to runway incursions, which resulted in three accidents. (AOPA President Phil Boyer will be testifying to Congress next week on runway incursions.)
The FAA has now classified incursions based on the risk of accident. Category A and B incursions pose the greatest risk of collision, C and D little risk. During the study period, the number of category A and B incursions remained stable. The biggest increase was in category D incursions, those with little chance of causing an accident.
The report notes that the most common runway incursion involves two general aviation aircraft, but these were minor in severity. GA aircraft represent 58 percent of the fleet and had 60 percent of the incursions. Airliners are 38 percent of the fleet, and they had 38 percent of the incursions.
AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation have been leaders in educating GA pilots on preventing runway incursions. Airport taxi diagrams are available free to all pilots on the AOPA Web site, and ASF recently pioneered an innovative online runway safety program.