Did You Hear: Runway Safety and ATC

  • Mar 21, 2014 8:48am GMT

Pilots and Controllers have very different jobs when it comes to air travel, but they share a common practice that can directly affect air safety--situational awareness. Being aware of your surroundings is an effective way of increasing safety. It reduces surprises and helps paint a better picture of what's going on around you.

Sometimes controllers and pilots get distracted by certain duties and they lose their situational awareness. Conversely, normal operations or a light workload can make someone feel like they don't need to stay alert. These can lead toward complacency, inattentiveness, or "tunnel vision" which opens the door for dangerous situations.

One specific danger is runway incursions. Attached below are three video examples of runway incidents involving pilots and controllers. The first video involves a runway incursion between a landing heavy cargo jet and a 737 taking off at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. In the second video a Pilatus is cleared on the runway ahead of a regional jet on its takeoff roll. The third video is an example of why it’s important to remain attentive to the controller and to other aircraft in your general area.

See if you can spot the similarities in the three scenarios and the contributing factors that caused the unsafe situation. Comment your thoughts and observations below. Let's all work together at making this a safe year for aviation.