What are runway incursions?

A Runway Incursion is defined as “Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft”.

Runway incursions can occur when there is a breakdown in communications or situational awareness at an airport. They can be caused by pilots, air traffic controllers, vehicle operators, or people working on an airfield, regardless of their level of training or experience. A general lack of situational awareness of their surroundings or confusion about their own position on an airfield seems to be the most prevalent cause of vehicle runway incursions. This can be due to a lack of training; misunderstanding of, or inattention to, airport layouts; changes to an airport layout due to construction; or even simple Human Error.

If, as a consequence of airport design, vehicles have to cross active runways to move between one area to another, the likelihood of runway incursions is increased. This risk may be reduced if the RST (Runway Safety Team) identifies the runway hotspots thereby creating an effective risk mitigation system. Operation with intersecting active runways is also likely to require careful consideration to ensure that the inherently increased risk of conflict is adequately managed.

Low visibility procedures (LVP) means procedures applied at an aerodrome for the purpose of ensuring safe operations during lower than standard visibility or category I (CAT I). CAT II (all airports), and CAT III (generally at larger airports) involve extended stopping areas for airside vehicles to compensate for lower visibility on approach and for aircraft taking off and landing.

When meteorological conditions deteriorate to such an extent that the cloud base drops to a certain level, or the horizontal visibility decreases below a certain value, then it might become necessary to establish LVP at an airfield.

CAT II/III holding points shall now be used, instead of the normal holding points for all airside activity. The Instrument Landing System (ILS) sensitive area around the runways must be protected and the extra distance from runway should prevent unwanted runway incursion during these conditions.

If the airport activates LVP mode then the AIM system automatically switches to LVP CAT II/III modes, and the driver is alerted at Cat II/ III holding points.