Friday, August 17, 2018
Transport Canada - Aviation Safety Letter 2009 Update on Runway Safety

2009 Update on Runway Safety

by Ann Lindeis, Manager Safety Management Planning and Analysis, NAV CANADA

How frequent are runway incursions?
The chart below indicates the number of runway incursions from 2005–2008. These runway incursions include:

  • Air traffic services deviations (AD): situations that occur where air traffic services (ATS) are being provided, and where a preliminary investigation indicates that safety may have been jeopardized, less than minimum separation may have existed, or both.
  • Pilot deviations (PD): situations that occur where the actions of a pilot result in non-compliance with an ATC instruction/clearance, or a violation of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).
  • Vehicle or pedestrian deviations (VPD): situations that occur where a vehicle operator, a non-pilot operator of an aircraft, or a pedestrian proceeds without authorization onto the protected area of a surface designated for landing or taking off.


While most of these events had little or no potential for a collision, it should be noted that runway incursions continue to happen and we need to maintain our efforts to reduce the incidence.

Why do runway incursions happen?
A wide range of factors contribute to runway incursions, including less-than-perfect aerodrome design, technology, procedures, training, regulations and human error. Progress in managing runway safety requires on-going effort from everyone in the aviation industry.

What activities are being undertaken to manage runway safety?
Runway safety is a collective responsibility. This responsibility extends to organizations (aerodrome operators, the air navigation service provider, and the air operator) as well as to individuals (e.g. controller, pilot, vehicle operator). This article will highlight some of the recent initiatives for enhancing runway safety involving NAV CANADA at the local, national and international levels.


  • As part of the continuing effort by NAV CANADA to respond to customer needs and conform to international best practices, procedures were implemented to replace the English phraseology of “taxi to position” and “taxi to position and wait” with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard phraseology “line up” and “line up and wait” when instructing aircraft to enter the departure runway. The change was implemented April 10, 2008, and the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual (TC AIM) has been amended. A major dissemination project was undertaken involving the Air Transportation Association of Canada (ATAC), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) and their U.S. affiliates. NAV CANADA unit managers also briefed local flight schools and customers. No changes have been made to the French phraseology.
  • To emphasize the protection of active runways, and to enhance the prevention of runway incursions, pilots are asked to acknowledge taxi authorizations that contain the instructions “hold” or “hold short” by providing a complete readback or repeating the hold point. With the increased simultaneous use of more than one runway, instructions to enter, cross, backtrack or line up on any runway should also be acknowledged by a readback.
  • NAV CANADA formed a Working Group with customers and stakeholders to address ATS-pilot communications. The mandate of the Working Group is to enhance safety by undertaking initiatives to improve communication and reduce communication error. The group has initiated an awareness campaign aimed at ATS personnel as well as pilots. The campaign involves an educational DVD on ATS-pilot communications, posters, and articles.


  • Procedures were changed to have controllers instruct an aircraft to either “cross” or “hold short” of any runway it will cross while taxiing. Therefore, unless you are specifically instructed to line-up, proceed/taxi on, or cross a runway, hold short of that runway.



  • Airport surface detection equipment (ASDE) has been installed at more airports, enabling controllers to detect potential runway conflicts by providing the controller with a radar picture of movement on runways and taxiways.
  • Expanded dynamic use of stop bars at Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Although primarily used during low-visibility operations, pilots may also encounter illuminated stop bars under other operational conditions on the high-speed exits leading from Runway 06R/24L and approaching Runway 06L/24R. Pilots should never cross an illuminated stop bar.
  • NAV CANADA and the Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) are jointly investing in a new multilateration surface surveillance system that will improve aircraft and vehicle visibility on the runways and the airport apron at Montréal/Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The technology is called multistatic dependent surveillance (MDS).

Sharing runway safety information

  • Local runway safety teams or committees are active at many sites across Canada. The composition of these committees varies, but typically includes representation from the aerodrome operator and the local NAV CANADA unit, as well as air operators.
  • RSIPP: In 2005, NAV CANADA invited stakeholders to form an independent Working Group to exchange safety-related information pertaining to the movement of aircraft and vehicles on the manoeuvring areas, with the aim of promoting runway safety and with a primary focus on the reduction in the risk of runway incursions. The group is called the Runway Safety and Incursion Prevention Panel (RSIPP). Membership in RSIPP includes representatives from various aviation stakeholders, including Canadian Airports Council (CAC), COPA, ALPA, Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA), Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA), Air Traffic Specialists Association of Canada (ATSAC), ATAC, CBAA and observers from Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). The focus this year is on establishing connections with local runway safety activities, and developing tools to support local and national runway safety knowledge and activities.

These are just a few of the activities being undertaken within the aviation community in Canada.

For information about other runway safety initiatives, see the following links:

Add comment

Security code