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Maintaining Separation on the Ground

Safety Spotlight: Collision Avoidance

Cessna 172 landing at Newton, KS.
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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.