Later this year, airport operators will be required to assess and report runway conditions using a new methodology developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Here is a look at what compliance might mean for hubs, as well as some of the challenges around implementation.
As of November, all airport operators will be required to monitor their runways more closely using a new standardized methodology. Developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the package, known as the global reporting format (GRF), is aimed at harmonizing the assessment and reporting of runway conditions.
Along with controlled flight into terrain (an accident in which a plane under a pilot’s control is unintentionally flown into the ground, a mountain, water or obstacle) and loss of control in-flight, runway safety is one of ICAO’s top three safety priorities.
Runway excursions – incidents in which aircraft veer off the landing strip, either on take-off or landing – are a particular concern. In February, a flight operated by a budget Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines slipped off a wet runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport on landing, killing three passengers and injuring scores of others onboard.
Thankfully, excursion-related fatalities are rare, but excursions themselves are common, occurring around three times a month, according to ICAO figures.
Roughly 90% of such incidents occur on ‘contaminated’ runways – where the runway is slippery as a result of wetness, snow, slush or ice. This would suggest, as pointed out at a recent IACO assembly by Paul Adamson, the agency’s airport operations and operability officer, that “many of these excursions happen in a very focused period of time”.
“This methodology is very simple and based upon operational need,” said Adamson in his presentation on GRF. “Going on accidents we’ve had in the past; and we know that we need to have this common methodology and common language around the globe and air traffic network.”