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Taxi issues at PDK

On 11-09-10, our company's King Air 350 landed at PDK (DeKalb–Peachtree, Atlanta GA). The ground controller issued a specific taxi clearance to the FBO ramp. While taxiing as instructed, the crew was forced to stop short of a crossing taxiway due to a single engine aircraft rapidly approaching the intersection, right to left, unannounced. The ground controller came on the frequency and made a remark expressing his surprise in the traffic conflict due to the taxi speed of the single-engine plane. After this aircraft passed in front of the company aircraft the crew continued to the FBO ramp.

That same day, on departure, this crew experienced another incident of aircraft ground movement with the potential for collisions—situations that were either not recognized or not announced by the PDK ground controller. The subjective impression of this crew was that ground ops at this busy GA airport are a low priority for ATC. Taxi operations do not receive the attention from ATC that flightcrews might expect from other airports.

Unfortunately, operations there have literally become "see and avoid" operations on the ground. Often crews have had to stop and query ground control on who has priority to continue movement. In our operation we have taken steps to complete our after-landing and before-takeoff checks on the FBO ramp because of our concern for collision. When we do taxi at airports like PDK, the rule is "all heads up, all eyes outside."

Because PDK is one of the busiest airports in this country we feel that this is an important issue that needs to be nipped in the bud before we have a collision on the ground. Too often there's confusion on what's going on because of assumptions that absolutely should not be made. If the controlling facility is understaffed then maybe they need to reevaluate what's important and make changes before someone gets hurt.
_Comm, King Air 350

So much so that FAA issued Notice NOTC0586 entitled "High Number of Runway Incursions at Peachtree–DeKalb Airport, GA." To combat this problem, the airport scheduled an FAA Runway Safety Action Team meeting in March for all pilots.
This aviation safety concern was forwarded to PDK Tower to address.

This reply was provided by PDK Tower Mgr Bonita Martin. "Providing the safest, most efficient air traffic control service is our priority at DeKalb–Peachtree Tower. We encourage pilots to immediately contact the supervisor on duty or the facility manager if they are concerned about the air traffic service they receive at PDK or from any other FAA facility. We take every pilot complaint seriously, and we thoroughly investigate each and every one.

The King Air pilot expressed concern about taxiing at PDK on Nov 9, 2010. Our records for that day show that no events were reported and no pilots called the Tower to complain. We retain audio recordings of all communications between pilots and controllers for 45 days. Since we did not learn about the pilot's concern until mid-February—90 days after his taxiing experience at PDK—the audio was no longer available for review.

PDK Tower takes runway and taxiway safety very seriously. We work closely with airport operations, users and the FAA Runway Safety Office to identify issues and take immediate corrective action. We will discuss this pilot's experience at our next controller meeting, and use it as a lesson learned for the entire team. We invite the pilot to visit PDK Tower the next time he flies into the airport. He'll meet skilled, professional controllers who are committed to providing the safest service at one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country."