The FAA should issue a regulation requiring airline pilots to confirm they are on the correct runway, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a letter sent to the agency Tuesday.
"Frankly, that should be part of any pilot's checklist, regulation or not," said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. "As part of your final check before applying takeoff power, confirm that the heading indicator or HSI agrees with the compass and that both are showing the same number as the runway you?re supposed to be on."
The NTSB letter to the FAA came out of the ongoing investigation of the August 27 Comair Flight 5191 accident in Lexington, Kentucky. The captain taxied the aircraft to the shorter Runway 26 instead of the assigned Runway 22. The aircraft ran off the end of the runway, killing 49 people on board.
The Board said there have been 114 incidents of pilots lining up on the wrong takeoff runway between 1988 and 2005.
"Situational awareness is as important on the ground as it is in the air," said Landsberg. He explored that issue most recently in the November issue of AOPA Pilot magazine in his column " Wrong Runway."
The use of taxi charts is helpful to transient pilots in finding their way to the right runway. Instrument-rated pilots usually have taxi charts in their chart kit. But until a few years ago, VFR pilots didn't have an easy, inexpensive source for taxi charts.
In 2001, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation teamed with the FAA to put taxi diagrams on the AOPA Web site, free to any pilot, AOPA member or not.
The Foundation also has a wealth of information to help pilots learn more about improving their safety during airport operations, including the highly acclaimed online training course, Runway Safety . Free copies were sent out to 200,000 GA pilots this month to promote awareness.
December 13, 2006