Preventing Runway Incursions – a Completely Renewed EU Action Plan

On 1 May, EUROCONTROL published the revised version of its European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, the so-called “EAPPRI 2.0”. It makes important recommendations to help reduce runway incursions in Europe – a figure that has been increasing. Having been closely involved in the drafting of this document ECA calls on pilots to take note and contribute to make runways a safer place.

To make things concrete, we suggest the following ‘Pilot Test’. Would you:

1.      taxi out, without knowing the relevant airport specifics, having planned the ground operations, without a valid airport chart or with a crew not trained or familiar with the aerodrome signage?

 Yes

 No

2.      allow crew to cross red lights, cross a runway without clearance or enter the runway when not ready for take off or take-off or land without being sure that clearance has been received?

 Yes

 No

3.      not inform ATC when not sure of position or when more time is needed on the runway?

 Yes

 No

4.      continue taxiing when performance has to be calculated, when aircraft checks still have to be performed, when airport charts have to be found, when not completely sure on the taxi clearance or when a communication breakdown has occurred, in order to save time and money?

 Yes

 No

5.      accept or request an intersection take off when checks or performance calculations are still to be made, accept a rapid EXIT taxiway for departure while taxiing or accept that only one pilot is concentrating on taxiing while the other one(s) are doing something totally different e.g. public address, checks and/or performance?          

 Yes

 No

 

Probably all of the “No” tick boxes have been marked.  However a comprehensive study revealed that at least one of these crew-related factors played a major role in all runway incursion accidents and incidents.

If the major causal factors are known and established, why is the number of reported runway safety incidents still rising? One explanation could be that the willingness to report runway safety incidents has increased, whilst the number of accidents decreases. That would mean that there has been a shift from very serious incidents (class A), via serious incidents (class B) to minor incidents (class C or D). Unfortunately that is not the case – a reason why new actions are required.

This is exactly the aim of EAPPRI 2.0’s new guidelines, released on 1 May. 

The good news is that with the EAPPRI 2.0, not only are crews, air traffic controllers and vehicle drivers held responsible; but now the airline operators, the national service providers, the airports and other organisations also have to be compliant. This is a major shift from an individual to an organisational approach – a shift ECA has strongly supported and advocated.

Since the Milan Linate runway incursion accident in 2001, ECA has worked with EUROCONTROL and other stakeholders on reducing the risk of these accidents, leading to the publication of the first EAPPRI in 2002. The goal at that time was to set some best practice that would quickly help reduce the risks. This included an awareness-raising campaign, setting up local runway safety teams, collecting data, and issuing concrete recommendations for all persons involved.

A lot of these goals have now been achieved. But in the last decade, new viewpoints and insights have come into play, reason why the EAPPRI 2.0 has been developed. The many practical guidelines are designed to decrease the number of serious incidents. Once this has been achieved the next step can be taken: reducing the number of minor incidents. 

Thus fellow pilots: Let’s take up the challenge and make a shift from A>B>C>D incidents and eventually to Zero possible, without another major runway safety accident! Study the recommendations and spread them among your colleagues, use them in the work of you Local Runway Safety Teams and help improve runway safety!

Please do not hesitate to contact ECA for any clarification or input you might have.

For the action plan see: http://www.eurocontrol.int/runwaysafety/

Captain Rob van Eekeren