Because of the considerable number of runway incursions across the European region and worldwide, including actual collisions with a significant loss of life, it was considered necessary to focus attention on this safety issue. Analysis of the available data indicated that more than one runway incursion every day was occurring within the region.
The European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions was released in 2003 as a product of the European Runway Safety Initiative (ERSI). In 2011 it was revisited and enhanced with further recommendations and guidance material. A further revision was undertaken during 2016 and 2017 resulting in the publication of EAPPRI Version 3.0 in November 2017.
Since the first release of the EAPPRI, aerodrome local Runway Safety Teams have been established at hundreds of airports across Europe. The implementation of the recommendations contained in the first and second versions of the Action Plan has been extensive, thanks to these teams and the organisations that support them. In 2008, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) embedded this concept as an essential requirement to the European Union “EASA Basic Regulation”, a key element in helping to raise the safety of runway operations at European airports.
More recently, the Commission Regulation No 139/2014 (known as “Aerodrome Regulation”), and its associated Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM), further elaborate the importance of these runway safety arrangements. Other EU legal instruments covering standardised European rules of the air (SERA); air operations; the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences in civil aviation; common requirements for the provision of air navigation services; and technical requirements and administrative procedures relating to air traffic controllers' licences and certificates also impact runway safety to one degree or another.
Many operational staff have experienced a runway incursion and have contributed to the future prevention of runway incursions through incident reports. These reports have taught us that the majority of contributory and causal factors are concerned with communication breakdown, ground navigation errors and inadequate information in the cockpit.
The runway incursion problem remains a significant safety issue. One of the important challenges is that pilots and drivers on a runway without a valid ATC clearance believe they have permission to be there.
The implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS) and the establishment of aerodrome local Runway Safety Teams (RST) have undoubtedly enabled aircraft operators, air navigation service providers and aerodrome operators to improve operational runway safety. In the spirit of continuous improvement, however, new recommendations in EAPPRI version 3.0 challenge industry partners and regulators to re-assess the effectiveness of these working arrangements and practices to ensure that they continue to be optimised to deliver safe runway operations, including the prevention of runway incursions.
Practical use of the ICAO runway incursion definition is intended to allow runway incursion data to be compared, common causes and contributory factors to be identified and lessons to be shared. However, experience has shown that these ideals are threatened because the interpretation of the definition still varies across the industry. Further work may be necessary, but as an intermediate step a new appendix (Appendix N) provides additional guidance aimed at improving the overall consistency of runway incursion data and a better understanding of runway collision risk.
Aerodrome vehicle driving operations are an ongoing hazard for safe runway operations. A number of new recommendations and associated guidance would further strengthen the existing comprehensive barriers, if implemented. The use of synthetic trainers (simulators) to train airside drivers is bringing economic and operational benefits to some airports. Control and management of aerodrome works in progress/contractors are given more prominence in EAPPRI V3.0; additional aerodrome design considerations are also promoted.
Operational safety studies continue to show that the H24 use of stop bars can be a powerful runway incursion prevention barrier. Previous editions of EAPPRI included H24 stop bar use in Guidance Material but in this version the practice is elevated to Recommendation status for aerodrome operators and air navigation service providers to consider.
Regulators and national aviation authorities have an important role to play in setting the national tone as far as runway safety and runway safety promotion is concerned. New Recommendations ask national authorities to strengthen this activity and their oversight of operators’ SMS.
This document recognises the proliferation of aeronautical information (e.g. NOTAMs) that pilots, in particular, are expected to assimilate. New Recommendations call for improvements of Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) and the simplification of the way it is presented. The aspiration to present aerodrome NOTAM information in a digitised, interoperable exchange format (i.e. graphical display) should be continued.
Emerging technologies such as those associated with Remote Tower Operations (RTO) present opportunities and threats as far as maintaining the safety on and around runways is concerned. Similarly, authorised remotely piloted aircraft (RPAS) or ‘drones’ need to be accommodated on and around aerodromes whilst ensuring the continuation of safe operations.
Other technologies on the ground (in ATC and/or on the aerodrome) as well as those on board aircraft are becoming increasingly available.
Action Plan Appendices
The recommendations contained in the Action Plan have been transposed into a series of appendices as follows:
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix A - Communications Guidance
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix B - Guidelines for aerodrome local Runway Safety Teams
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix C - Airside Vehicle Driver Training
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix D – Aircraft Operators/Flight Crew Best Practices
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix E – Air Navigation Service Providers/Air Traffic Controller Best Practices
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix F - Oversight Activities for Regulators
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix G - Safety Management Systems
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix H - Aeronautical Information Management Guidance
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix I - Guidance for Joint-use Civil/Military Aerodromes
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix J - Use of Aeronautical Ground Lighting that Protects the Runway
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix K - Aerodrome Design Guidance for the Prevention of Runway Incursions
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix L – Maintenance, Inspections, Works in Progress/Temporary Modifications of the Aerodrome
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix M - Technology
- European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions, Appendix N – Interpreting Events - Runway Incursion?