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Six Facts About Our Smart Runway Safety Solutions

Six Facts About Our Smart Runway Safety Solutions

In January 2021, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published the 10th edition of their European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS). Covering 2021 – 2025, EPAS set out their strategic safety priorities and identified the main risks affecting the European aviation system.  

Developed in close consultation with the EASA Member States and industry partners, EPAS identified runway safety as a key challenge. Across the North Atlantic, runway incursions and excursions also continue to be one of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) highest priorities.

1. Runway excursions are the most common type of aviation accident worldwide, representing 22% of all accidents. The reasons behind many of these accidents are varied, including pilot error (not following SOP, landing late or landing at too high a speed), mechanical failure, such as brake malfunction, and weather (wind, wet runway surface). Globally, two flights a month end with a runway excursion, costing the industry more than US$900 million per year.

2. The world’s runway infrastructure is also dated, lagging behind the advances in aircraft design and performance. For example, in 1950, when many existing runways were built, you’d expect to handle a DC3, weighing 11,000 kg, landing at 90 knots, whereas today an A380 has a maximum landing weight of 386,000kg and lands at approximately 140 knots. Given the extra speed, weight and size of the aircraft – more precise landings and more stable approaches are required to prevent runway excursions.

3. Statistics from the FAA show there were 1,262 runway incursions at airports in the United States in 2020 – that’s an average of more than 3 incursions every day. Fortunately, most of these incursions pass without further consequence – however the potential for catastrophe is clear. Indeed, on April 1, 1999, a runway incursion occurred at O'Hare International Airport when a China Air Boeing 747 deviated from its assigned taxi route and inadvertently re-entered a runway as a Korean Air 747 was taking off. Fortunately, the Korean Air aircraft was going fast enough for the pilot to lift off. According to the NTSB Report, the Korean aircraft passed just 75 feet over the Air China aircraft and was only three seconds away from a collision. There were 390 people on the two aircraft.

4. Honeywell’s runway safety solutions – SmartRunway and SmartLanding are available for both commercial and business jets and can break the chain of events that lead to runway incursions and excursions. The next evolution of the renowned Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS), SmartRunway and SmartLanding are software upgrade options for the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) which increase flight crew situational and positional awareness during taxi, takeoff and landing.

5. SmartLanding helps reduce the risk of a runway excursion by encouraging compliance with an operator’s stabilized approach criteria. Flight crew are alerted if the aircraft is going too fast, is too high, is going to incur a long landing, or is incorrectly configured for landing. Under normal conditions, no advisory would be heard or displayed, leaving the pilots to focus on the task in hand. However, should the aircraft fail to meet any of the customer-defined standard operating procedures for landing, then an audible callout and a graphical advisory will be issued. These callouts enable the pilot to stabilize the approach or perform a go-around.

6. SmartRunway, which addresses the threat of runway incursions, uses ground navigation GPS data to issue advisories to the flight crew based on aircraft position when compared against airport locations stored in the EGPWS Runway Database. Loss of situational awareness is a factor in the majority of these runway incursions, particularly if pilots are operating at unfamiliar airports, or in poor weather conditions.  

SmartRunway and SmartLanding are available today for a range of commercial airliners and business jets. They are customizable to best suit individual operating environments, including volume control and optional inhibit switches. And installation is simple as a low-cost software upgrade to Honeywell’s Mark V or Mark VII EGPWS, which requires minimal aircraft downtime and minimal pilot training. To find out more click here.

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