Wrong Runway, Go'Round

If you're not into aviation, like most Australian airport operators, you might think that some of those stories you hear from fanatics like me are a bit far-fetched. In my early days in aviation, I thought the same about the stories involving pilots putting their aircraft down on the wrong runway. Surely not...

Unfortunately, it has happened with the latest incident occurring less than two months ago. This time it involved a CRJ-200 and a new but not yet operational parallel runway. Luckily, according to this site, no one was injured.

But that is not always the case. One of the more often cited wrong runway incidents involved a Singapore Airlines B747 taking off from Taipei. The runway had been closed for works but the aircraft overshot its intended runway and lined up on the closed one. Eighty-three people died.

You can get more information from Skybrary and you'll find that these incidents are rarely just the result of pilot error. The lesson I tend to take away is that airport people should think about the signals we send to pilots - are they clear, concise and unambiguous? If not, then the pressures of flying might mean that your signals are not picked up and the aircraft does something you didn't intend.

What signals do you use to tell pilots your runway is closed? You might follow the minimum set out in the standards (dumb-bell or cross in the signal circle) but is that enough? Will the pilot see it? Some food for thought, perhaps.