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Finding a Solution to Wrong-Surface Runway Events

August 23, 2018 - EAA this week participated at the FAA’s Wrong Surface Safety Summit in Leesburg, Virginia, which highlighted wrong-surface events and working toward creating solutions for this danger, which has become a focus of the FAA’s safety efforts. Wrong-surface events include aircraft that are operating off of the wrong runway, taking off or landing on a taxiway adjacent to the runway, or landing on any other surface that was not assigned.

From fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2018, the FAA recorded 596 such incidents, 86 percent of which were general aviation operations. Approximately half of the nearly 600 wrong-surface events were wrong-surface landings or takeoffs, and the rest were attempts that were thwarted by either the pilot or the controller intervening before the occurrence completed.

Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety, participated on a panel at the summit that presented ideas to reduce the rate of these incidents.

“The first step we need to take is to bring awareness of wrong-surface events to the general aviation community,” Elliott said. “I believe many GA pilots don’t even have this on their radar of operational issues to combat and prevent. We have all heard of incursions and the associated best practices to prevent them, and we have also seen great success in lowering the loss-of-control accident rate. Now we need to step up our alertness for wrong-surface errors as well.” 

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