Runway Excursions: OFF The Side and OFF The End

I see FSF just issued a new Action Plan for preventing com’l acft RW excursions:

However, I noticed three glaring omissions, in my opinion:

  1. Flightcrew Landing Training.
  2. FAA Part 121 Landing Procedures
  3. FAA Runway Engineering 

Yes, the FAA has requirements for approach training, but landing training is not emphasized other than currency.

As context, US Navy carrier based flight crew practice “FCLP” or field carrier landing practice dozens of times under direct supervision of a Navy Landing Signal Officer or LSO, prior to going to the boat to actually land on an acft carrier. Emphasis? Three items: 1. Being precisely on glideslope, not a little high or a little low, but spot on center meatball;  2. Line up, being both on centerline and not having any drift off of centerline; 3.  Being on speed at L/D max.

US Navy procedures were one thing, but it was the supervised practice, practice, practice that made all the difference.

I just do not see that kind of supervised practice required by the FAA, EASA or any other regulator for commercial airline operations.

Second point: FAA Landing Ref speed includes as much as a 30% turbulence safety fudge factor above L/D max. That is good in turbulent air landings. 

But, you could reduce that speed by some of that 30% buffer in non-turbulent air and land 10-15 knots slower and still be well above L/D max. Advantage? Less stopping distance required by the square of the speed, which is important on slick and short RWs.

Third point: The Europeans, the Canadians, ICAO and much of the world still have not embraced. FAA Crowned and Grooved Runways standards (AC-120).

FSF has had FAA Runway Engineers give Crown and Groove briefings at various seminars. (I know because I arranged two when I served on FSF EAC, and once when I was the Navy ASO in Pensacola.) 

But Crowning and Grooving engineering remains a hard sell.

Paul Miller

Published by Capt. Paul Miller

Aviation safety expert with 43 years in the sky

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