The FAA and AOPA Air Safety Foundation
teamed up to provide a pull-out "Pilot's
Guide to Safe Surface Operations" in the
current issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.
Even the "big guys" think it's good. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online Runway Safety program is already drawing rave reviews.
"What can I say? Wonderful," wrote Northwest Airlines pilot Isaac Lang. "I have recommended that our ALPA pilots at Northwest Airlines complete your Runway Safety program." Lang is the Air Line Pilots Association safety vice chairman at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
When officials with the FAA's Office of Runway Safety and Operational Services wanted to reverse the dangerous trend of runway incursions, they turned to AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation for help. They knew there was no better way to get the word to general aviation pilots, and they knew the resulting program would be innovative, entertaining, and, more important, educational.
What they got was a triple whammy: a ground-breaking online training program, the FAA's own "Runway Safety" brochure distributed directly to more than 400,000 pilots, and an informative article in the world's largest aviation magazine, AOPA Pilot.
The centerpiece of the effort is the aptly titled Runway Safety: Safe Flying Starts and Ends on the Ground. This remarkable online course challenges pilots to reexamine how much they really know about ground operations. Free to all pilots, the course also provides a thorough understanding of how to operate aircraft safely while on the ground.
"Runway incursion accidents are one of the most preventable types, because it's almost entirely a matter of pilot education and awareness," said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. "When the FAA asked us to help teach pilots about the dangers and how to avoid them, we decided on this multifaceted education initiative."
Using animation, video, challenging quizzes, and startling real-life examples, the course reminds pilots that they have to "fly the plane" from the time they start the engine until they shut it down again at their destination.
In the past, the number of runway incursions was more or less evenly distributed across all pilot certificate levels - a private pilot was statistically no more or less likely to cause an incursion than an airline transport pilot. But over the past two years, the airlines have improved dramatically, to the point that GA is now responsible for a disproportionately high number of incursions.
"The simple fact is that runway incursions should never happen, but they do," Landsberg said. "The best solution is for pilots to be thoroughly familiar with airport markings and with the runway and taxiway layout at the airports they'll be using."
The article in the September issue of AOPA Pilot examines the problems at an airport with the dubious distinction of being the GA airport with the highest number of incursions, as well as tips and technology that can help prevent the problem.
The "Pilot's Guide" insert offers guidelines, tips, and more useful safety information. AOPA Pilot reaches more pilots than any other aviation magazine in the world. It's distributed to AOPA's more than 400,000 members. In addition, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has developed a set of downloadable Runway Safety flash cards. Pilots, flight instructors, and examiners can use them to test a pilot's knowledge of signs and markings found at an airport.
Successful completion of the free AOPA Air Safety Foundation Runway Safety online course could also mitigate an FAA enforcement action if a pilot is later involved in a pilot-caused runway incursion. Under the FAA's Runway Incursion Information and Evaluation Program (RIIEP), the agency plans to forego punitive legal enforcement and will normally be more lenient with a pilot who has passed the course and who meets other criteria. Passing the course also fulfills the ground requirement for the FAA's Wings pilot proficiency program.
August 13, 2004