The FAA's Office of Runway Safety has selected the AOPA Air Safety Foundation to produce a new runway incursion training program using a decidedly low-tech approach: flash cards.
The new program coincides with a change in the practical test standards for private and commercial pilot licenses. The new standards, which take effect in August, require examiners to place greater emphasis on ground operations and avoiding runway incursions.
"Runway incursions have multiple causes, but the best solution is to be as careful while taxiing as while flying and know what all the markings and signs on the airport mean," said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "The flash cards should be most helpful for pilots training at smaller, nontowered airports when preparing to operate at larger, towered airports."
The front of each card displays a typical airport sign or pavement marking. The back not only explains it, but also what action the pilot should take.
The Air Safety Foundation is producing 130,000 sets of flash cards for the Office of Runway Safety and an additional 20,000 for the foundation to distribute. In addition, the FAA has ordered 80,000 copies of ASF's revised, updated Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor.
By late summer, some 80,000 certificated flight instructors (CFIs) and designated pilot examiners (DPEs) will receive both the updated Safety Advisor and a set of flash cards. The packet will also include a videotape that features both ASF's Operations at Towered Airports video and the FAA's Airport Signs, Markings, and Procedures program.
Instructors will be able to drill their students on what airport signs mean and what to do when approaching them. And examiners will now have a visual aid for the oral testing portion of a prospective pilot's checkride.
ASF will back up the FAA's efforts by distributing its copies of the flash cards to pilots who attend ASF safety seminars.
"Runway incursions are a problem that cuts across all aviation boundaries," said ASF's Landsberg. "High-time airline transport pilots flying for the major air carriers are as likely to be involved as low-time private pilots. This program is an excellent example of the federal government working closely with the private sector to solve a difficult problem."
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is the nation's only private, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to providing continuing pilot education and safety programs for general aviation. It is funded by donations from individual pilots and organizations, which support the cause of improved general aviation safety.