The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday issued specific measures for aviation sector players to mitigate the risk of incursions on runways at Indian airports.
These measures include the activation of stop bars by air traffic controllers (ATC) to inform aircraft when they should not proceed, the establishment of contingency plans in case the stop bars malfunction, the establishment of runway safety equipment at airports and conducting comprehensive training programs for pilots, ATC personnel, aircraft maintenance engineers and airport drivers.
The DGAC issued this circular following the January 2 accident at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, where a DHC-8 aircraft of the Japan Coast Guard burst onto the runway, causing a collision with a Japan Airlines A350 aircraft. Five of the six crew members aboard the DHC-8 lost their lives in the collision and only the captain survived. Fortunately, all occupants of the A350 survived the collision.
A runway incursion occurs when an aircraft, person, or vehicle is in the wrong area of the runway, which can cause an accident with another aircraft that is taking off or landing. According to DGCA data, the number of runway incursions in India in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 were 40, 25, 15, 35 and 45, respectively.
In a statement, the regulator stated that aviation sector players (airports, airlines, etc.) should adopt technological interventions to improve situational awareness, thereby helping ATC and other stakeholders to identify traffic in the area where the plane is maneuvering.
Stakeholders have also been asked to “recognize the influence of human factors on performance,” which can lead to runway incursions. The DGCA has also asked each airport to establish a runway safety team and ensure its effective functioning.
“ATC should ensure that stop bars are illuminated to signal a stop and extinguished to indicate that traffic may continue. Under no circumstances will aircraft or vehicles be ordered to cross illuminated red stop bars. The aerodrome, “ATC and airlines should implement contingency measures to address unusable stop bars,” the DGCA mentioned.
Drivers who operate vehicles on the runway, aircraft maintenance engineers, ATC and pilots should have “comprehensive” training to avoid runway incursions.
“By adhering to the actions specified in this circular and maintaining a proactive approach among all stakeholders, the risk of runway incursions can be further reduced,” he mentioned.
First published: February 12, 2024 | 18:19 IS