FSF data suggests improvement in runway safety incidents

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In the third year since it launched its runway safety initiative, Flight Safety Foundation information suggests an improvement during 2009.

The results were revealed at FSF's European Aviation Safety Seminar in Lisbon. Last year there were no runway incursions, one runway confusion event, but 25 runway excursions, representing 28% of all accidents and involving 19 fatalities.

This compares with 2008's figures of no incursions or confusion events, but 38 runway excursions and 36 resulting deaths. Runway excursions that year represented 39% of all accidents. The previous year showed 334 fatalities from excursions.

Excursion events, and resulting fatalities, seem to be reducing since the launch of the runway safety initiative, but the FSF is not yet claiming that the initiative and the reduction are linked.

Runway safety incidents from 1995 to 2008 show that the annual average is fewer than one runway incursion or confusion event, but 30 excursion accidents.

Presenting the figures, the FSF's director of technical programmes Jim Burin said the most effective action airlines can take is to have a stabilised approach policy that it ensures its pilots carry out, and to have a genuinely no-blame go-around policy.

Air traffic control should play its part by avoiding 'slam-dunk' approaches or late runway changes to facilitate stabilised approaches, and to provide the best real-time weather and runway data available.

Airports can assist by grooving runways, providing good lighting, and they can reduce potential damage by having safe runway overrun areas.