Av Hazard publicizes safety and operational concerns to help prevent accidents but it works only if we hear from you. Use the postage-free Av Hazard card to describe the hazard and return it to Pro Pilot. To obtain an official FAA review send NASA an ASRS form. For immediate action, call the airport, FBO, ATC, FSDO or the 24-hour FAA Safety Hotline at 800-255-1111. Note: Telephone numbers for all US Towers and ARTCCs are published in Ac-U-Kwik and Pilots Express Airport/Heliport/FBO directories. To report safety concerns outside the US, contact ICAO HQ at 514-954-8219 or via fax at 514-954-6077. ICAO has worldwide telephone and fax numbers to expedite Av Hazard reports to civil aviation authorities.
Runway status light deployment at MCO
In a continuing effort to combat runway incursions FAA is deploying a new runway status light (RWSL) system at 23 airports across the country. The first airport undergoing testing is MCO (Intl, Orlando FL) with several more airports receiving operational systems by the end of 2011 and the remainder due by Jun 2016. RWSL does not replace current light systems but is an automatic warning system to alert pilots and vehicle operators if the runway is unsafe to enter, cross or take off from.
Two types of lights make up the RWSL, both using red lights. The first is takeoff hold lights (THLs) and the other is runway entrance lights (RELs). THLs are at the "line up and wait" point, extend for 1500 ft in front of the holding aircraft and are designed to prevent the aircraft from starting the takeoff roll if other vehicles or aircraft are on, exiting or entering the takeoff area. RELs include the 1st light at the hold line followed by a series of evenly spaced lights to the runway edge. When activated, the red lights indicate high-speed traffic on the runway or aircraft on final approach within the activation area.
Most runway warning lights are yellow and flash while the unidirectional red RWSL lights are red and remain illuminated as long as an unsafe condition remains. The system receives information automatically from Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-X) and ATC does not control the activation of the RWSL. Light intensity can be adjusted by ATC or it can be deactivated if ATC feels it is interfering with traffic movement. Pilots should stop and advise ATC if cleared for takeoff or onto a runway when the red lighting system activates. For more information go to faa.gov/air_traffic/technology/rwsl.
Confusion following improper radio call
While departing under VMC from FCH (Chandler, Fresno CA) we took the active runway 12 for departure and heard an R22 helicopter state they were taking Runway 12L. Well, we stopped on the threshold and queried this action since our sectional chart and Jeppesen plate only listed a Rwy 12/30 for FCH. After investigating, I discovered that at FCH the helicopter used the closed runway to the north side of the airfield, which was previously 12L/30R. However, this is NOT noted on any chart or Jeppesen plate. Using 12L terminology when it does not exist creates confusion for pilots unaware of this "local knowledge" and could result in a possible threat of an incursion or an unnecessary go-around.
_Comm, Piper PA44
- It is imperative for all aviation professionals to use proper radio phraseology when talking on the radio. The pilot above is correct—the danger exists for confusion and, worse, a possible accident or midair could occur when "local knowledge" type calls are used. Often while flying throughout this country I hear people call "Piggly Wiggly inbound" or something to that effect. Local pilots may very well know where the VFR point may be but if it's not published in aeronautical publications, it can and does present itself as useless information for pilots not familiar with the area. In the above example, if the runway is no longer 12L the correct call should be "departing from the closed runway north of 12 to the southeast" or something similar, not reference a runway designation no longer in existence.
Aircraft laser attacks at LGA and in UK
Due to recent laser attacks on aircraft flying into LGA (La Guardia, New York NY) FAA called for help in finding the person or persons responsible for attacking 6 aircraft on approach to LGA in 1 night. The aircraft ranged from a regional commuter to Boeing 757 and were between 1600 and 2500 ft AGL and about 5 miles southwest of the airport when the laser attacks occurred. Officials are taking these events seriously to determine if the attacks were research to determine aircraft pilot reaction or just malicious activity.
Laser attacks are on the rise in Europe with only 30 events recorded in 2007 and over 1600 in the first 9 months of 2011 in the UK alone. Eurocontrol says 1048 incidents were reported in 2008 and 4266 events were recorded in 2010 throughout Europe. The UK is following FAA with stiff penalties for individuals directing lasers at aircraft. FAA may fine an individual $11,000 while in the UK the maximum sentence for intentionally endangering aircraft is 5 years in jail. FAA has created a website for laser attack reporting and to gather information about the rising problem—faa.gov/go/laserinfo.