Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday issued a circular outlining mitigation strategies for runway incursions based on the analysis of safety data over a month after a runway collision between a Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 and a Japan Coast Guard aircraft In Tokyo on January 2.
Five of the six crew on the smaller plane died while 379 passengers aboard the JAL plane, which burst into flames as it skidded down the tarmac, escaped via an evacuation slide from the smoke-filled cabin of the burning aircraft.
The DGCA asked airlines to have comprehensive training for pilots, air traffic controllers, aircraft maintenance engineers, and drivers operating at airports to prevent runway incursions, which refer to aircraft, vehicles, people, or objects on the ground that may cause collisions.
It called for ensuring adherence to standard procedures by all involved personnel/ stakeholders. The regulator asked the airlines to adopt technological interventions to improve situational awareness, thereby assisting air traffic controllers (ATC) and other stakeholders in identifying traffic within the manoeuvring area. It directed the airlines to recognise the influence of human factors on performance, which may contribute to runway incursions as well as to establish runway safety teams and ensure their effective functioning.
The DGCA said ATC should ensure that stop bars are switched on to signal a stop and switched off to indicate traffic may proceed. It added stopping bars are a valuable defence against aircraft and vehicles inadvertently entering a runway without ATC clearance. “In no case, aircraft or vehicles be instructed to cross illuminated red stop bars. Aerodrome, ATC, and airlines should implement contingency measures to cater to unserviceable stop bars.”
The regulator said the rate of runway incursions is decreasing but their risk may be reduced further by adhering to the actions specified in the circular.