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FAASTeam Notice
Type: Runway Safety Information
Notice Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Notice Number: NOTC3399
Chicago Midway International Airport Runway Safety Information
This notice expired on
Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Many Runway Incursions are caused by transient pilots, not local pilots. For example, in 2011, there were 3 runway incursions at Midway Airport, and so far this year there have been 2; there were only 3 in the previous 4 years combined. All 8 were committed by GA pilots not based at Midway or a local airport. This is an unfortunate trend and that is why you are receiving this message.

Chicago Midway Airport is known as the "World's busiest square mile".  In 2011, there were over 255,000 total operations which included over 43,000 General Aviation Operations.

Due to the large amount of traffic and the airport's complex runway and taxiway configuration, taxi routes at Midway require pilots to remain vigilant and ensure that their situational awareness remains high at all times.

The Midway Airport's runway configuration, close proximity parallel runways and associated taxiways generate some uncommon Runway Hold Positions.  In many cases the taxiways do not intersect the runways at right angles and can lead to confusion.  The HOLD LINE for Runway 22 RIGHT on TAXIWAY PAPA is a good example (Click here to see photos and taxi diagram (https://www.faasafety.gov/files/notices/2012/Aug/MDW_SPANS_Notice.pdf)).  This hold line is several hundred feet short of Runway 22R.  The turn from Taxiway P onto Runway 22R requires a 140 degree change in direction.  Night and/or low visibility conditions only exacerbate the situation. 

This Runway Hold Position has been designated as Hot Spot 5 and is clearly marked with new Elevated Runway Guard Lights, Runway Holding Position Signs, a Surface Painted Holding Position Sign, Runway Holding Position Markings and Enhanced Taxiway Centerline. 

It is imperative that pilots know their position at all times!  Lack of situational awareness is a major factor in runway incursions. 

Please review the following Best Practices and incorporate them into your flight operations -

Best Practices for AIRFIELD SAFETY - Pilots

The best practices were developed by FAA staff to help pilots improve safety by giving guidelines that should be followed to keep skills and focus current and vigilant. Remember: over 80% of pilot caused runway incursions occur during taxi to the departure runway....

PRE-FLIGHT PLANNING:

  1. Review and understand airfield signage and markings.
  2. Review the appropriate airport diagrams.  Review any Hot Spots identified on the diagram.  Print a copy for use in the cockpit. 
  3. Review airfield NOTAMS and current ATIS for any taxiway closures, runway closures, construction activity, or other airfield specific risks.
  4. Brief any passengers on the importance to minimize discussions, questions, and conversation during taxi (maintain a “sterile cockpit”).

TAXI:

  1. Have the airport diagram out and available for immediate reference during taxi.
  2. Review current ATIS for any taxiway closures, runway closures, construction activity, or other airfield specific risks.
  3. During radio transmissions, use correct terminology and proper voice cadence.
  4. Copy the taxi clearance and use the airport diagram to review the taxi route to the assigned runway prior to releasing brakes and beginning taxi.
  5. Eliminate distractions while taxiing in the operational area.
  6. Focus attention and have your "eyes out" of the cockpit when taxiing.
  7. Maintain appropriate taxi speed.
  8. Be alert to similar call signs operating on the field.
  9. STOP aircraft on the taxiway and request ATC clarification if there is confusion regarding aircraft position or ATC taxi clearance. 
  10. Prior to crossing any runway during taxi, ensure you have a clearance to cross.  Visually check to ensure there is no conflicting traffic prior to crossing the runway.
  11. If there is any doubt that the runway is clear, reconfirm crossing clearance with ATC.
  12. Be aware that hold short lines can be as far as 400’ from the runway due to new Precision Obstacle Free Zone (POFZ) requirements.
  13. Maintain a “sterile cockpit” when taxiing.   

TAKE-OFF:

  1. If cleared to “line up and wait”, turn on all exterior lights except take-off/landing lights. If you have been holding in position on the runway for more than 90 seconds, or upon seeing a potential conflict, contact the tower.
  2. When “cleared for takeoff”, turn on all exterior lights, including take-off/landing lights.
  3. Note that if you see an aircraft in take-off position on a runway with take-off/landing lights ON, that aircraft has most likely received its take-off clearance and will be departing immediately.
  4. When assigned a departure at an intersection versus a full length takeoff, state “intersection departure” at the end of the take-off clearance readback.
  5. Conduct "Clearing Turns" to check all areas prior to entering ANY runway.

LANDING:

  1. Wait until you have exited the active runway and you are sure of your taxi clearance prior to beginning an after-landing checklist
  2. Follow the same TAXI Best Practices above.


REMEMBER:  WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK! 

For additional information:

FAA Office of Runway Safety:    http://www.faa.gov/airports/runway_safety/

FAA Safety Team:                    http://www.faasafety.gov/