Watchlist 2014

Risk of collisions on runways

Problem

There is an ongoing risk of aircraft colliding with vehicles or other aircraft on the ground at Canadian airports.

Background

Airport operations require aircraft and vehicles to move between ramps, taxiways, and runways. Sometimes this movement creates conflicts between aircraft, or between aircraft and vehicles. These conflicts can also happen when aircraft or vehicles mistakenly occupy an active take-off or landing area.

In a 10-year period from 2004 through 2013, there were 4153 of these conflicts, known as runway incursions, in Canada. Given the millions of take-offs and landings each year,Footnote 1 incursions are rare, but their consequences could be catastrophic.

Since the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) first placed this issue on its Watchlist in 2010, the number of these occurrences has remained too high: in 2010 there were 346, followed by 454 in 2011, 429 in 2012, and 381 in 2013. They continue to occur more than once a day.

There are ongoing efforts by both the industry and the regulator to share data and other information, and to improve local airport procedures; however, more leadership is required from Transport Canada. In particular, few new technological defences have been seriously considered or implemented in Canada.

The TSB has reached findings and reported publicly on the risk of collisions on runways.Footnote 2 The Board remains concerned that incursions and the risk of collisions will continue until better defences are put in place.

Solution

Improved procedures and enhanced collision warning systems must be implemented at Canada's airports.

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