Runway incursions, a Nav Canada update



Early in 2008, a hazardous situation occurred at an international airport when a Cessna 172 taxied without authorization across two runways. This required quick action by the pilot of a DH8 on short final, who had to pull up and go around.

At another airport, a C180 requested to use Taxiway Charlie for a departure. Although the pilot was advised that Taxiway Charlie was closed by NOTAM, the pilot proceeded to taxi via Charlie. The Flight Service Specialist advised the C180 pilot of IFR jet traffic on base leg for Runway 24. Despite this information, the C180 began to backtrack on Runway 24. The jet reported final and was advised of the C180 backtracking. As a result, the jet carried out a missed approach.

A third event was when the pilot of a DV20 was given a departure advisory for Runway 25. The pilot confirmed his intent to use Runway 25, but then departed Runway 19.

These are just three of the 43 runway incursions involving errors by general aviation pilots in the first six months of 2008. These events did not result in accidents but without quick intervention they might have. General Aviation pilots were responsible for over 25 per cent of all runway incursions in the first six months of 2008. The graph illustrates the total number of runway incursions since 2004 in a rolling 12 month period (RY = rolling year).

Runway Incursions Defined

What exactly is a runway incursion? Canada has accepted the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) definition: "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."

Nav Canada encourages pilots to become familiar with the following recent services and initiatives available to pilots:

- Nav Canada introduced the Canadian Airport Charts (CACs) airport publication. The information provides pictorial displays of airport manoeuvring areas found in the Canada Air Pilot or military GPH 200. This is a free on-line service available at

- 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 posters, published articles, and an educational DVD on "ATS - Pilot Communications" which is in progress.

- As part of the continuing effort by Nav Canada to respond to customer needs and conform to international best practices, procedures were implemented to adopt the ICAO standard phraseology "LINE UP" or "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 (AIM) will be amended in a future edition. A major dissemination project was undertaken involving ATAC, ALPA, CBAA, COPA and their U.S. affiliates. Nav Canada unit managers also briefed local flight schools and customers.

- 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 to cross a runway; hold short of that runway.

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.

On Oct. 25, 2007, Nav Canada began depicting "hot spots" on aerodrome charts or applicable aerodrome ground movement charts in the Canada Air Pilot (CAP). A hot spot is defined by ICAO as a location on an aerodrome movement area with a heightened risk of collisions or runway incursions, or a history of both, in which greater attention by pilots is necessary.

Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) has been installed at more airports enabling controllers to detect potential runway conflicts by providing detailed coverage of movement on runways and taxiways. ASDE is able to track vehicles and aircraft on airport surfaces and obtain identification information from aircraft transponders.

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 COPA and observers from Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

It’s also important that aviation stakeholders continue to report runway incursions and investigate the contributing factors. There are ongoing meetings and presentations between Nav Canada personnel, flying schools and general aviation at most airports where a Tower, FSS or FIC is located.

Contact the local Nav Canada Regional Safety Manager, Serge Thibeault (Eastern Canada) at 514-633-3011 or Lana Graham (Western Canada) at 604-598-4854 to arrange for an information session.

There is a passion in the aviation community to continually improve our safety record, and this is being accomplished through collaboration, sharing of safety data and best practises, and introduction of new technologies.

Together, pilots, ATS personnel, and vehicle operators can help by being especially knowledgeable of aircraft locations, aerodrome layout, using ICAO standard phraseology, and asking for help when in doubt.

Safety is a part of everyone’s job - and general aviation has a significant role to play.

Total Runway Incursions - Moving 12 Month Period July 1- June 30, 2004 - 2008


These runway incursions include:

1. Air Traffic Services Deviations (AD), situations that occur where air traffic services are being provided, and when a preliminary investigation indicates that safety may have been jeopardized, less than minimum separation may have existed, or both.

2. Pilot Deviations (PD), situations that occur where actions of a pilot result in non-compliance with an ATC instruction/clearance or a violation of a Canadian Aviation Regulation.

3. Vehicle or Pedestrian Deviations (VPD), which are situations that occur when a vehicle operator, a non-pilot operator of an aircraft, or a pedestrian proceed without authorization onto the protected area of a surface designated for landing or taking-off.