Paul Wilson - Articles and news items
Issue 5 2011 • 5 October 2011 • Paul Wilson, Head of Air Traffic Management, EUROCONTROL and Yvonne Page, Project Manager of Runway Safety at EUROCONTROL
Today there are a number of diverse technologies available to aid operational staff in their work to prevent runway incursions and excursions and assure runway safety. The kinds of technologies we refer to include systems for air traffic controllers, pilots and manoeuvring area vehicle drivers and provide an alert that a runway is in use or situational guidance to those operating on the manoeuvring area.Runway alerting systems for pilots and vehicle drivers can be extremely effective but one significant drawback is that for many runway incursions the prime causal factor is a breakdown in communication between the controller and the vehicle driver or pilot – in short they believe they have received a valid clearance to enter a runway. Likewise for controllers, their surveillance based alerting systems have, and will continue to, save many serious incidents – however the alerting time on occasions can be very brief – almost too brief for any effective action to be taken. Consider the situation where a pilot, for whatever reason, crosses a runway holding point and starts moving towards the runway, he will get to the edge of the runway in seconds. In that time the system will need to detect the situation – alert the controller. The controller needs to work out from the display where the incident is and what the best course or recovery action is – and remember he may well be very busy. The situation and avoiding action needs to be conveyed to a pilot who needs to understand what is being said and react accordingly – clearly this could be very difficult in just a few seconds.
A recent and very detailed study by Eurocontrol into the evolution of traffic demand revealed some significant information for airports. Known as the Challenges to Growth 2004 Study, this work updated a previous report that was completed in 2001.