In an innovative response to the runway incursion problem, AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation have teamed to offer an online runway safety course, the ASF Runway Safety Program.
AOPA provided the funding for ASF to develop and produce the interactive training course, available free to all pilots over the Internet.
The ASF Runway Safety Program is the first industry online course accepted for FAA's "Wings" pilot proficiency award program.
"The growing number of runway incursions is a 'hot button' for FAA and Congress," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA and ASF are committed to finding simple and effective solutions that can be implemented now. Pilot education is the fastest and most effective way to reduce the chance of an incursion."
Boyer previewed the course for FAA Administrator Jane Garvey in late February. She hailed the Air Safety Foundation's Runway Safety Program as "an extraordinary training tool."
"This addition to the AOPA Web site is yet another excellent AOPA initiative to increase pilot awareness and improve runway safety," said Garvey.
The course contains three parts: an arrival at Long Beach Airport in California, a departure from Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, and a quiz. Using active motion and 3-D graphics, the ASF Runway Safety Program takes pilots through real-life situations involving operations with high potential for runway incursions.
Realism is enhanced with audio of ATIS and ATC communications provided by working controllers who are members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
Questions in each module of the ASF Runway Safety Program are used as learning experiences. After the pilot taking the course has selected an answer to a question, the correct answer is shown along with a full explanation.
Pilots who successfully complete the course quiz may download a graduation certificate suitable for framing.
The FAA will grant credit for the ground instruction requirements of the FAA "Wings" pilot proficiency safety program to those who successfully complete the ASF Runway Safety Program. And flight instructors can accept the course graduation certificate as evidence of the ground operations knowledge now required for a biennial flight review.
AOPA and ASF have been leaders in the effort to curb runway incursions. AOPA President Phil Boyer is the only aviation industry representative on the FAA Administrator's Runway Safety Management Team. ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg chaired a recent FAA Runway Incursion Task Force.
ASF, working in concert with the FAA's Runway Safety Program and National Aeronautical Charting Office, has been offering free, detailed airport taxi diagrams to all pilots via the Internet for more than a year. And ASF's Operations at Towered Airports, a free pamphlet available to all pilots, provides valuable information on how to operate at busy airports.
"Knowledge is the key," observed Landsberg. "And ASF's new online Runway Safety Program course gives general aviation pilots the key to help prevent runway incursion accidents."
With more than 365,000 pilot members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization. AOPA founded the independent, nonprofit AOPA Air Safety Foundation in 1950 to promote general aviation safety through research and education.
ASF serves all pilots and is funded primarily by contributions from individual pilots and companies interested in promoting GA safety.