In the last two years, 596 aircraft in the US have landed on the wrong runway—that’s one every second day.
At a recent summit in the US, the FAA have warned about these types of incidents and have stated they are one of the top five hazards in aviation.
Eight-five per cent of the incidents involved general aviation aircraft. ‘I’m asking each of you to make this a priority,’ FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell said at the meeting. In a recent Safety Alert for Operators the FAA cited several best practices for pilots to ensure they are lining up on the correct runway, such as checking NOTAMS, stabilising the approach, making good use of the available technology and being ready to go around if needed.
According to the FAA, the probability of being involved in a wrong-surface event is highest when operating in visual conditions—89 per cent occurred during daylight hours. Airfield geometry, communications and expectation bias also play a role. About 75 per cent of incidents involve parallel runways and parallel taxiways also can cause confusion. At the summit, Teri Bristol, chief operating officer at the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, said pilots need to be aware of the issue. ‘We’ve had some close calls, and we’re very concerned,’ she said.
The NTSB will release its final report later this month on the near-miss in San Francisco last year when an A320 crew lined up on a taxiway instead of the runway.