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ALC-48: Hold Short for Runway Safety
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Runway Incursions: To Define and Diffuse

"Runway Incursion" Defined

Beginning FY 2008 the FAA defines a runway incursion as:

"Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and takeoff of aircraft."

The National Airspace System managed more than 58 million takeoffs and landings at over 500 towered airports in FY 2008. Of that number, 1,009 resulted in "runway incursions;" a 13 percent increase over FY 2007.

What is an incursion? Most dramatically referred to as a "near-miss," an incursion can actually take an almost benign form. For example, the least dangerous form might apply if a pilot edged the nose of his plane over a "stop line," akin to going a little too far when approaching a stop sign on the road. And an incursion isn't merely when two planes are headed for a collision; about 20% of cases involve pedestrians and vehicles.

The following charts show the classifications used to identify the severity of a runway incursion and the number and rate of category A & B incursions during FY 2005 - FY 2008.

Runway Incursion Severity Classification


Total Number and Rate of Category A and Category B Runway Incursions (FY 2005 - FY 2008)


The FAA categorizes runway incursions into three error types: pilot deviations, operational errors/deviations, and vehicle/pedestrian deviations. Identification of a runway incursion as a pilot deviation, an operational error/deviation, or a vehicle/pedestrian deviation is not an indication of the cause of the runway incursion; it is a classification of an error type. These error types typically refer to the last event in the chain of pilot, air traffic controller, and/or vehicle operator actions that led to the runway incursion.


According to the following chart "Pilot Deviations" accounted for approximately 63% of all runway incursion for FY 2008. It is important to remember however that all incursions, no matter what the type, involved an aircraft, don't let it be yours!