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I have just seen this video of what has been called a runway incursion at LEBL (my hometown airport). A russian jet initiates a go-around after seeing an argentinian plane crossing runway 02:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N5THRSp4hM

It's not clear (as of 2014-07-07 1400L) whether ATC gave clearance to cross the runway. Anyway, my understanding is that even with ATC clearance you are required to check for incoming traffic and hold short of the runway if such traffic exists.

Seems like the taxiing crew either didn't look for incoming aircraft or they estimated they had enough separation to cross the runway.

So, is there any regulated separation distance (time/space) that can be used to tell who was responsible for this conflict? It's solely based on pilots' criteria?

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I think it's just no-one on the runway (past hold markers) from giving clearance to land to the landing aircraft leaving the runway. Existing traffic is allowed at time of issue as long a the pilot is advised and it will clear before arrival. –  ratchet freak Jul 7 at 12:48
    
According to this article, "The airport's administrators say that the two airplanes were exactly where they were supposed to be, claiming there was enough distance between them". –  Doc Jul 7 at 18:54
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According to avherald, it was an operational error, both a landing clearance and a crossing clearance were issued. They also further report there was a mixup in the operations, where the ground controller thought runway 2 was no longer in use issuing a crossing clearance without coordinating with the local controller. –  falstro Jul 10 at 7:44

1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

When an aircraft has been given a clearance to land on a runway, that runway is exclusively reserved for the landing aircraft. (Except for LAHSO and "land after" operations, where only part of the runway is reserved for the landing aircraft).

That means that no other aircraft or vehicle should be on that runway. In this case, clearly something went unplanned. Either the crossing aircraft was not given permission to cross, the landing aircraft no clearance to land, or ATC mistakenly cleared both the landing aircraft and the crossing aircraft to access the runway.

Pilots should always check if the runway they are accessing is safe, and in this case the crew of the landing aircraft did apparently observe the incursion and aborted their landing. The crew of the crossing aircraft noticed the landing aircraft a bit late, but you hear their engines spool up as well as they cross. The sound of the go-around thrust arrives second later due to the difference in distance.

The crossing aircraft seems to be taxiing toward the rising sun so they may have been blinded and missed the fact that they were crossing a runway.

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Good point about the rising sun! –  orique Jul 7 at 13:02
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In the US, with the right equipment, controllers can clear an aircraft to land while another is still holding for departure. Additionally, depending on aircraft weight class, they can issue a clearance that puts the arriving aircraft over the threshold while the previous arrival is still on the runway and as few as 3000 feet from the threshold. FAA JO 7110.65, section 3.10: faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/ATC/atc0310.html –  NathanG Jul 7 at 14:55
    
The U.S. uses "anticipated separation" whereas the rest of the world uses actual separation. In terms of runway separation, this means that in the U.S., a controller may clear two aircraft to land before either is anywhere near the runway. If you listen in on ATC at a class D airport with lots of flight training, it'll not be all too uncommon to clear two aircraft on downwind to land (the second has to have the first in sight, and is given the extra "number two" condition to the clearance). I don't think any other country in the world does this, but I might be mistaken. –  falstro Jul 10 at 7:41

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