Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Maintaining Separation on the Ground

Safety Spotlight: Collision Avoidance

Cessna 172 landing at Newton, KS.
Reproduction of this image prohibited without written permission on photographer's invoice stating rights granted, and payment in full of said invoice.

Runway Incursions

Situational awareness is critical in avoiding runway incursions whether operating at towered or nontowered airports. Miscommunication, inattention, and lack of information are usually at the root of a typical runway incursion. Pilots may be unfamiliar with the airport layout or misunderstand taxi instructions, controllers may misunderstand an aircraft’s position, or a preoccupied pilot may taxi past an assigned hold short position.

Miscommunication, inattention, and lack of information are usually at the root of a typical runway incursion.

Hot Spot Areas

To reduce the chances of a runway incursion, review the layouts of destination and departure airports during your flight planning. Some airport diagrams depict hot spots with the potential for a collision or runway incursion (their descriptions are provided in the Chart Supplement). Also, read back all clearances, especially instructions to hold short.

Collision SA Hot Spot Areas

Runway Safety: Over the Line

Distractions can quickly lead to a runway incursion as demonstrated in this video from the Runway Safety course.

Avoiding Runway Incursions

  • Taxi route—Review the anticipated taxi route before taxiing for departure and en route before landing.

  • ATC instructions—Listen carefully, the route you’re given may not be the one you expected. Read back all taxi and hold short instructions. If uncertain, confirm permission to cross a runway.

  • Airport layout—Study current airport diagrams for all airports for your flight, especially those with which you are unfamiliar. If in doubt, ask for progressive taxi instructions.

  • Look for traffic—Ensure that no conflicting traffic exists before entering the runway and beginning the takeoff.

  • Nontowered airports with intersecting runways—Check for traffic on the crossing runway as well as the one you intend to use for departure; do the same when landing at these airports.

  • Airports with parallel runways—Be aware of the potential for confusion created by “left” and “right” runway designations.