ECA and IATA Join Forces on Local Runway Safety

Pilots call for members of Local Runway Safety Teams

Local Runway Safety Teams (LRST) are a practical solution to improve runway safety and efficiency. LRST's allow operational Air traffic controllers, pilots and airports managers to communicate and work together to find solutions for local runway safety issues.

Joint ECA / IATA initiative

The LRST initiative started in 2003, and now more than 160 Local Runway Safety Teams have been established in Europe. Although not all these currently have a pilot representative in their team, most of the teams associated with major airports do. Some of the teams have a pilot representative from an Airline Pilot Association and in others a management pilot participates. Both pilots have one thing in common; they are pilot representatives and thus also have a joint interest to improve safety at airports. After three years of implementing the LRST concept, the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) in close cooperation and harmony with IATA have taken a joint initiative for a meeting of European pilots involved in LRSTs. This meeting took place in Toulouse on 04-05 December 2007 and was kindly hosted by Airbus. The goal was to achieve harmonised best practices in runway safety and efficiency, and to establish a pilot LRST network throughout Europe.

Interactive model provoked good discussions

An interactive model was chosen for the style of the meeting which allowed excellent interactions between the 35 pilot participants from around Europe.

The meeting was led by Captain Rob van Eekeren from ECA and Ton van der Veldt, IATA's Programme Manager who presented the latest developments in European runway safety. The meeting was supported by Yvonne Page, Eurocontrol Runway Safety Project Manager and Michel Tremaud Senior Director safety programmes at Airbus. The meeting was also attended by Filippe Tomassello, EASA Airports Manager, who gave an update regarding EASA's future plans regarding airport regulations.

What was achieved?

The meeting focussed on three runway safety topics, runway incursions, the use of a wrong runway and runway excursions. The participants were asked to answer two questions: Which concrete item(s) have you achieved at your airport? And second, which concrete item(s) would you like to be achieved within two years at your airport? This was followed by peer group discussions. Ideas, best practices, encountered problems and solutions were discussed and concrete results have been achieved.

A380 plant visit

Airbus sponsored the venue and both lunches. The dinner on 04 December was jointly sponsored by IATA and the European Cockpit Association. The meeting concluded with a visit to the Airbus A380 production line. The good discussions during the two days, combined with these social activities resulted in a good relationship and the establishment of an inter-pilot LRST network.

It can be concluded that there was a real need for this type of event. Participants expressed the desire for a follow up. IATA and ECA will see if and how this would be possible in the future.

Some of the results and recommendations from the discussions:

  • Keep to and comply with the ICAO Annex 14 Standards and Recommended Practices for signs, markings and lighting. This will not only guarantee world wide operational use but it also reduces the need for special training of pilots. Only If the LRST has very, very, very good reasons, than perhaps a temporary trial of a new sign or marking could be carried out. The trial marking or sign must be clearly identified and feedback must be sought regarding the effectiveness of the new sign or marking. An example of this is the "runway ahead" marking that is currently used at a number of European airports.
  • Unless used for a clearance, avoid using the word "TAKE OFF" to avoid compromising situational awareness. Phrases such as "cabin crew prepare for departure" or similar should be used instead of "Cabin crew prepare for Take off".
  • Include an active heading check on the runway to avoid using the wrong runway and confirm by suitable means that you are on the correct runway if there are parallel runways.
  • Follow the IFALPA recommendation regarding the use of aircraft lights to help avoid runway incursions (see proposed IFALPA policy).
  • Follow the IFALPA recommendation for the designation of taxiways to help avoid runway incursions (see proposed IFALPA policy.)
  • Assess the results of the Local runway safety teams on a yearly basis, by SMS tools such as the ARIA self checking tool
  • Publish HOTSPOT maps for your airport and then work to mitigate the risks associated with the hotspot or preferably remove them altogether. A thorough SMS Risk Assessment of each hotspot should be carried out to find out what mitigation measures are required. EUROCONTROL to work on the harmonisation of hotspot maps (use of colour etc.)
  • Insist that only aviation English is used for operations on a runway. A single frequency for all operations on the runway has been established already. But what is the use of it when one aircraft gets crossing clearance in a non aviation English language whilst another aircraft waits for take off clearance on the runway in aviation English?
  • To facilitate further communication IFALPA should develop a web based site especially for LRST pilot members at
  • The use of perimeter taxiways should be encouraged wherever possible to avoid the need to cross runways. The use of perimeter taxiways will also help to improve airport capacity and improve operational integrity.
  • A need for training regarding airport lighting, signage, marking was identified. This should be regulated by EASA during initial training and should be included in re-current training or part of CRM training on a regular basis to prevent runway incursions. Standardisation and harmonisation to ICAO Annex 14 should be the goal. Training could also be achieved at the local level as part of a LRST/ awareness campaign.
  • Conditional Clearances; Limited use preferred, when used follow latest ICAO provisions (Munich accident). Positive acknowledgement from flight deck regarding traffic concerned
  • Overrun prevention/ mitigation; Runway distance available technology could help prevent an overrun. Possible options included the use of technology on the aircraft. A cheaper option was the use of distance to go signs along the side of the runway. Use of EMAS was supported, although there may be limitations in certain conditions, cold climates.

Captain Rob van Eekeren, ECA