June 18, 2019

June 2019 Safety Corner

The FAA is still hot and heavy when it comes to educating general aviation pilots on Airport Operations. With increases in air traffic, there has also been an increase in surface operation incidents and incursions at airports throughout the country – large and small. Currently there are three runway/taxiway incursions per day. That’s over 80 incursions a month!! If you’ve been to Eppley Airport lately, you’ll see that the construction has turned airport taxing into chaos. It’s important to remember that when flying from point A to point B, please make sure your preflight activities include airport operations and diagram information for departure and destination airports.

Pre-Flight Planning

  1. Familiarize yourself with runway layouts and taxi routes at both the
    departure and destination airports. If you’re heading to a large airport, decide ahead of time what FBO you’ll be stopping at, the runways in use, and the taxiways you’ll use to get there. Also keep in mind the possibility that the control tower may take you on a different route, so familiarize yourself with the airport and taxi diagrams. You can find these in the Airport Facility Directory, AOPA’s facility book and website, and assorted aviation websites (NACO) and Jeppesen materials.
  2. When in doubt of where to go at ANY TIME while taxing, please ask
    the tower for PROGRESSIVE TAXI INSTRUCTIONS. Don’t feel that it belittles your abilities as a pilot by using this phrase. Getting a good look at the airport layout is different at 1,000 – 2,000 feet versus being on the ground and confusion can easily happen – especially at night! If you have a co-pilot, utilize him or her. Confirm routes with each other to help clarify any confusion.
  3. ALWAYS verify and read back your assigned taxing routing from the
  4. Always be alert when crossing runways, just like you’re crossing the
    street. Look both ways. Controllers are not infallible. They, too, can
    make a mistake but it doesn’t relieve pilots of being “heads up” while
  5. At smaller, less-used airports, announce your intentions on the CTAF
    and be vigilant before entering a runway. Some of these smaller airports have a lot of older aircraft that may not have the necessary
    communication equipment. Just keep a sharp eye out before entering a runway and don’t rely on, “Well, I didn’t hear anybody announce
    they’re in the pattern so it should be safe.”


  1. “Line up and Wait” – If you fly into towered airports a fair amount, you’ve undoubtedly heard this phrase at some point (it used to be “position and hold”). What does it mean? When a controller instructs your aircraft: “Skylane 5380N, line up and wait 32 right.” In short, you are NOT cleared for takeoff but are cleared to enter the runway and hold for takeoff instructions. You know you’re cleared for takeoff when the controller gives the following: “Skylane 5380N cleared for takeoff, turn right 030 degrees.” Obviously, if the controller says “Hold Short”, then he/she is asking you to hold behind the hold short line until further notice.
    • Remember, when taxing onto any runway – EVEN IF CLEARED TO DO SO – please remember to look around first. ALWAYS USE YOUR CALL SIGN WITH ANY TRANSMISSION. There’s a lot of traffic on an airport and it’s not uncommon to have two planes with similar sounding N – numbers.
  2. LAHSO – Landing and Hold Short Operations have been identified by the FAA as problem spots at larger airports that have intersecting runways. Omaha has 36-18 intersecting with 32L-14R. It is critically important to listen carefully to landing instructions. If the controller instructs tells you you’re cleared to land on one of these runways but also includes a “hold short of 18”, then it’s critical to adjust your landing so that you are completely stopped well before runway 18. Chances are the controller has operating traffic on 18. Always verify and read back your takeoff and landing clearances and frequency changes from the controller. ALWAYS BE SPECIFIC!!!

Aircraft Lighting

  1. Use your exterior lights for different operations. For example, when on the
  2. ramp with the engine running, make sure your rotating beacon is on. Do not
  3. have your taxi or landing lights on because it could be disorientating to other
  4. aircraft on the ramp. When taxing, make sure the rotating beacon, nav, and
  5. taxi lights are used. When turning onto the final taxiway or entering the
  6. runway, turn on your landing light. Do not use your strobes unless weather
  7. conditions dictate it OR there are no other aircraft taxing in your area. The
  8. strobes will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel.

Airport Markings, Signs and Lights

  1. Always be aware at non-controlled tower airports of pilot-controlled lighting. Is it 5 clicks for medium an 7 for high intensity? Well, it depends on the airport you’re at. Check your AFD for details.
  2. Runway marking and lighting are white. Taxiway markings are yellow with blue lights. Please jump in your old private pilot book and freshen up on taxi way marking patterns. One confusing marking has always been the ILS hold short line. Just remember: when a controller issues the instruction to hold short of the ILS hold short line, then it’s important to understand why. Most taxiways will take a 90 degree turn to get to the normal hold short line. If weather is IFR (or especially below 600’) and the ILS is in use, a plane sitting in front of the normal hold short line MAY interfere with the ILS beams and electronics. Hence, an ILS hold short line has been installed at
    many larger airports to help prevent interference.
  3. Taxiway signs are black with yellow numbers, while runway designations are in red with white numbers. Taxi directional signs are yellow with black numbers and usually with arrows unless it is a short taxiway.
  4. If you’re not sure where you are going – ASK!!!

Kevin Broderick, TP,CFII, Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer


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