Attachment to testimony of Air Line Pilots Association,
House Aviation Subcommittee
June 26, 2001

A Systems Approach to Solving Runway Incursions

Each of the common root causes linked to runway incursions for pilots, air traffic controllers and vehicles must be adequately mitigated to sufficiently address this growing problem. ALPA supports seven broad areas of concentration to reduce runway incursion accidents. The seven areas below contain the initiatives that ALPA believes are a priority and must be accomplished in concert with each other for maximum effectiveness. First, the installation of GPS-driven cockpit moving map displays to enhance pilot situation awareness. Second, the use of improved Standard Operating Procedures for ground operations across the industry—current standardization is woefully inadequate. Third, improvements to pilot training, including action by the FAA to increase the significance of ground operations performance on all flight training. Fourth, air traffic control procedures must be improved. Fifth, improved training for air traffic controllers, particularly the use of high-fidelity visual tower simulators, similar in quality to aircraft simulators used for pilot training. Sixth, improved situational awareness technology for air traffic control, including ASDE-X and the emerging capabilities demonstrated in the FAA’s Safe Flight 21 Program. Seventh, visual aids enhancement and automation technology for airports including improved all-weather conspicuity signs, visual runway occupancy for flight crews on final approach and automated "Smart Lighting" to indicate taxi routes.

GPS Driven Displays in Aircraft and Airport Vehicles

The purpose of this initiative is to reduce Runway Incursion incidents by improving pilot horizontal and vertical situational awareness through the use of cockpit displays. The displays should have airport surface moving maps, taxi route and clearance information (through the use of data link technology), runway occupancy and ground traffic collision alerting systems. To achieve this will require the continuing development and certification of cockpit display equipment and the formation of standards, guidelines and procedures for use of the equipment. Cockpit airport moving map display systems shall incorporate industry "best practices" for computer-human interface (CHI) design to enhance and support flight crew situational awareness. The project requirements are as follows:

  • Promote installation of graphic cockpit displays (surface moving map) that depict the airport surface, cleared taxi routes and taxi clearance limits to all Part 121 operators. Apply data link technology to allow cockpit display to show ATC cleared routes and clearance limits. Systems must be developed for classic, standard and advanced aircraft.
  • Promote installation of graphic displays with traffic information and air/ground and ground/ground alerting systems to all Part 121 operators. Systems must be developed for classic, standard and advanced aircraft. ADS-B and TIS-B are the enabling technologies for traffic information.
  • Promote parallel development and installation in ground vehicles.
  • Parallel development of lower cost systems for general aviation operators that encourage voluntary equipage.
  • As moving map display technology with the above functionality advances, the technology should be applied to development of heads-up display (HUD) systems (synthetic vision?).

NOTE: Certified cockpit display equipment with surface moving map functionality will be available in the near term. Operators should install equipment when it becomes available rather than waiting for the end state functionality described above. Formal studies have indicated that immediate safety enhancement will be realized with displays that have airport surface moving maps and own ship position. The additional functionality will provide even further safety enhancements.

Standard Operating Procedures

Many runway incursions and other surface incidents can be linked to a lack of standardized pilot procedures to ensure safe ground operations. Although most airlines have detailed procedures for airborne operations, relatively few airlines have standard procedures for operating in the increasingly complex surface environment. This lack of standardization creates unnecessary risk. The purpose of this initiative is to reduce the risk of runway incursions and surface incidents by recommending that all FAR Part 121 operators and Part 135 operators: establish, document, train to, and follow standard operating procedures for ground operations. These operators should train to proficiency on their SOPs and ensure their use. These SOPs should be developed from a survey of industry "best practices". These "best practices" should also be adapted for use in single-pilot (Part 91) operations and recommended for use. Recommendations for "best practices" for ground vehicle operations in the aircraft movement area should also be developed and incorporated into training programs.

Pilot Training

Develop policies, procedures, and implementation guidelines for Pilot Training programs for airport surface operations to prevent runway incursions. The outcome of this work will be:

  • Training and/or standardization programs emphasizing situational awareness, standard operating procedures, and pre-flight planning
  • Emphasis on Cockpit Resource Management and command leadership training skills to address the dynamic operating environment faced by pilots
  • Guidance for prioritization in a multi-tasking environment to emphasize situational awareness, ground operations, and use of all resources.

Air Traffic Control Procedures

The purposes of these initiatives are:

  • To review and develop national Air Traffic Control Procedures that will require tower controllers to maintain a high level of situational awareness
  • To review the impact and recommend changes as necessary to "Reduced Separation on Final (FAAH 7110.65 para. 5-5-3f)" and "Land and Hold Short Operations (LAHSO)" as they pertain to surface incidents and runway incursions; and to review phraseology used for terminal operations, recommending changes to unnecessary or confusing phraseology.
  • To initiate rule-making to amend FAR 91.129 (i); and to require pilots to read back any clearance to enter a specific runway, hold short of a specific runway, or "taxi into position and hold" instructions.

Air Traffic Control Training

The purpose of this initiative is to ensure thorough training of basic air traffic control skills, resource management skills, situational awareness, and teamwork, through the use of high-fidelity tower simulators, memory aids, On the Job Training (OJT), and Computer Based Instruction (CBI).

Situational Awareness Technology for ATC

The purpose of this initiative is to develop and implement technology tools including data link that will provide and/or enhance airport surface situational awareness to air traffic controllers. Examples of these technology tools include, but are not limited to, Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS), Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-X), Automated Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B), Next Generation Air-Ground Communications System (NEXCOM), Surface Movement Advisor (SMA), and Airport Target Identification System (ATIDS). The strategies for accomplishing this initiative include:

  • New technology tools will be developed by the FAA to enable enhanced surveillance, information, communication (including anti-blocking technologies), and conflict detection for ATC operations.

  • FAA and airport operators will provide airport surface surveillance equipment with conflict alerting capability at air traffic control towers.

  • Digital data link capability will be developed and implemented to enable automatic transmission of ATC instructions/information (between the ground & aircraft).

  • Situational Awareness Displays developed in support of the above listed strategies will incorporate industry best practices for computer-human interface (CHI) design to enhance and support ATC decision-making.

Visual Aids Enhancement and Automation Technology- Airports

The purpose of this initiative is to develop and install airport visual aids, which provide clear guidance (taxi route, runway entrance & exit and construction area avoidance) for flight crews and other persons operating aircraft and vehicles on the movement area. It is intended that this initiative will provide unambiguous visual signals to convey runway occupancy clearances as well as to convey runway occupancy status to aircraft on final approach to a runway. Such visual aids are intended to prevent runway incursions and surface incidents as well as improve situational awareness. These systems are to be in accordance with appropriate aviation standards and visible under all meteorological conditions.