Nearly two-thirds of all runway incursion incidents and accidents could be avoided with a new development from Honeywell on display at the company's booth in Hall 2, J8.


The Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS) is an optional add-on to the company's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) and will be included after FAA certification on the next software release -218 scheduled for October.

Honeywell chief pilot Markus Johnson says as many as 40% of all runway incursions come from pilots taking off or landing on the incorrect runway; a further 10% involve the aircraft landing or taking off from a taxiway and 15% of incidents have occurred when the aircraft has been holding a position on the runway.

In the USA alone, the FAA reports an average of more than 400 runway incursions on towered airports each year. Figures from the CAA suggest that the number is increasing year on year. Transport Canada figures suggest that the number of incursions has trebled in the past five years. "We have looked at all the worldwide data and needed to come up with a simple intuitive system that would solve the problem," says Johnson.

Honeywell's John Behrens says RAAS could be the answer to a problem that has plagued aviation for decades. "The most horrific aviation disaster at Tenerife in 1977 when 583 people died was on a runway. The recent accidents involving the Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 in Taipei and the SAS Boeing MD80 in Milan were all runway issues."

RAAS sits inside the EGPWS database and makes use of the runway information within the system and links to the aircraft's GPS. Says Johnson: "We are currently working at validating and verifying the information on each runway, making sure it is where we think it is. There will be more frequent software updates as more and more runway information is added."

Honeywell researchers are checking all information. "We use existing charts and verify them. In some cases we have found the runway is half a mile away from where the charts say it is," says Behrens.

At Le Bourget, Honeywell is reporting on the success of demonstrations of the system fitted to a Beechcraft King Air C90. The company has been showing the pre-certificated system to airlines such as Air France, Air New Zealand and Alaska Airlines, to OEMs and to business aircraft operators. In a pre-Paris demonstration for Flight Daily News, Johnson put RAAS through its paces.

Vocal warnings

"The system is an advisory one," he says. "There are no screens, no hardware to worry about - just an oral warning that lets you, the pilot, make your decision."

Three routine advisory messages are given: The position in relation to the runway on both take-off and approach; the distance remaining of a runway; and a warning of the runway's end. There are also non-routine advisories. "For example if you are on the runway and have been holding for more than 90 seconds, RAAS will tell you. It doesn't tell you whether another aircraft is about to land on top of you, but it does ask the question to make sure you are comfortable with sitting where you are."

At the Deer Valley (DVT) airport demonstration, Johnson gets tower clearance to take off from Runway 27L. As he approaches the runway a clear female voice says: "Approaching Runway 27 Left".

"The system doesn't determine whether that is the right or wrong runway," says Johnson, "but it advises the pilot which runway he is approaching."

The system again reminds the pilot of the runway designation as he lines up for take-off.

We go round and prepare for landing. On the final approach to Deer Valley's Runway 27R, RAAS again identifies the runway. "From three miles out RAAS works within a box of 300-750ft of the runway elevation and 250ft on either side of the runway," says Johnson. RAAS confirms which runway we are approaching.

The voice cuts in again.

Runway 27R is just 4,500ft long and the King Air's system has been set for a 5,000ft requirement; as Johnson lines up for finals RAAS advises the pilot of the shortened runway length. Johnson leaves it late and at touchdown RAAS is advising 2,000, 1,500, 1,000è "It can be programmed to work in feet or metres," adds Johnson.

Once below 40kt, RAAS is silent until the runway end approaches. It then gives another advising that there is just 100ft of runway left.

Honeywell's own research indicates 13% of all incursions are due to aircraft taking off on the wrong runway or on a taxiway. Johnson demonstrates the RAAS solution. On the taxiway, he opens up the throttle to simulate a takeoff. At 40kt, the system interjects loudly to advise the pilot he is on a taxiway and Johnson aborts the take-off.

"The voice can be male or female - it is up to the customer. We have done work with the human factors team to test the science. It is important that the warning is not obtrusive but when it speaks, it speaks for a reason."

As we get tower permission to cross the runway to return to the Honeywell hangar, RAAS speaks up again to advise we are about to cross an active runway - a manoeuvre that accounts for a third of all incursions.

There are already 16,000 users of the EGPWS and Honeywell is confident that many will take up the option to 'unlock' RAAS. The retail price is $15,000. "That's less than the cost of a Toyota Corolla," says Johnson.

Source: Flight Daily News