Monday, October 01, 2007

FAA changes its official definition for 'runway incursions'

FAA logoToday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a change to its definition for what constitutes a runway incursion. Effective immediately, the FAA will use the same definition for runway incursions as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as set forth in a new Fact Sheet:
The biggest difference between the two definitions is that ICAO defines a runway incursion as any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft presents a potential conflict. For the FAA, an incident without an aircraft in potential conflict — such as an unauthorized aircraft crossing an empty runway — was defined as a “surface incident” and not a runway incursion.

The new definition means that some incidents formerly classified as surface incidents will now be classified as C or D category runway incursions, which are low-risk incidents with ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.

The FAA has always tracked surface incidents, in addition to runway incursions. The new definition simply means that certain less severe incidents will be classified differently. All incidents tracked in the past will continue to be tracked.

The classification of the most serious kinds of runway incursions, Categories A and B, remains unchanged. The total number of Category A and B incursions has fallen from 53 in fiscal year 2001 to 31 in FY 2006. A and B incursions are on track for another drop in FY 2007, with 24 recorded through Sept. 9.
The FAA made this change so that the same definition for runway incursions will apply worldwide. The hope is that the use of a single definition will help in the search to determine common factors that contribute to these incidents.