Avoid Runway Incursions

Runway incursions continue to plague General Aviation. If you analyze the quarterly safety reports and FAA runway incursions weekly reports as I do, you will see a trend of increased distractions due to our technology addiction.

In my aircraft during preflight, for example, prior to run up, there are three GPS databases to program, waypoints, taxi diagrams, traffic avoidance system, data link weather, heading bugs, barometric pressure, autopilot, just to name a few. Add to all this your normal checklist of oil pressure, temperature, fuel tanks, CHT and EGT, tower clearance and ground frequencies, doors, seat belts, suction, mag checks, instruments tests, sectional chart folding, etc.

There is a lot to concentrate on. And to make matters worse, pilots now have iPads, EFB’s, iPhones, or get text messages or phone calls with blue tooth headsets and we JUST HAVE TOO MANY DISTRACTIONS!

So let’s get back to basics. Program as much as you can before run up, before you taxi and if you have passengers on board, practice sterile cockpits. Turn off your cell phones. Once you fire up the engine there is nothing more important than situational awareness.

The cockpit workload is heavy enough without all these distractions. Use a knee board and checklist every time. Write atis, taxi and takeoff instructions down. Don’t rely on your memory.

Finally, if you have a runway incursion, taxiway incursion or any pilot deviation in a movement area, stop if you can. Contact ATC ground or tower. Request progressive taxi instructions. Take the time, do it right.

If you do get asked to “call the tower” be prompt and polite. Apologize and then hope you are not referred to the FSDO for enforcement. File a NASA report. Contact us before you do so or before you call or are interviewed by the FSDO.

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