I'm wondering if there's ground radar on planes, or any fallback system other than relying on a controller, for avoiding runway incursions?

Have any studies or reports been made that show statistically how the majority of these incidents occur?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ The first mistake is relying on the controller. Open your eyes and verify for yourself! $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Apr 9, 2014 at 2:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Re: runway incursion statistics, The FAA keeps close track of these. You can also get information from ASIAS (On the "Data & Information" tab, select "Databases P-Z" and you'll find the "Runway Safety Office" database, with details on each incident). $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Apr 9, 2014 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, is this picture fake? How can the photographer be at the right place, looking in the right direction, with the camera ready to capture a mishap? Why the plane on top does not have a shadow? Why the propellers are broken right before the collision? $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Apr 16, 2014 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Farhan It's real. Search Google Images for it, or I'll get you more info later $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2014 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @DannyBeckett I got this. I thought the picture was taken at the time of that accident happening. I didn't know that the planes were in a state of constant love. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Apr 19, 2014 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


At least three of the "fallback systems" I know of are looking out the window, being familiar with the airport and its markings (as well as associated hotspots, as airport diagrams may indicate), and also paying attention to the radio, if you're equipped. Of course, no one of these methods is foolproof, so it takes a combination of alertness and prudence to avoid incursions. I was taught to look both ways before intersections, or to look both ways before entering a runway, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Also, using lighting on your aircraft appropriately helps make you more visible.

Other planes may not have a radio, so you may not hear a radio call of someone else in the pattern. Also, at a complex intersection in a new airport, it may be confusing where you are, or what hold short lines you're about to cross -- so being aware of your surroundings is important here.

There are some technologies the FAA has been implementing to reduce the risk of runway incursions, such as Elevated Runway Guard Lights and stop bar lights, plus ground radar technologies (for ATC) to assist (see ASDE-X and AMASS). Note that your A/FD entry may list, for example, that not all taxiways are visible from the tower -- which is a good reason to stay extra alert.

Other sources:

An additional FAA training video:


There are many procedures and systems in place to reduce the risk of runway incursions as much as possible. Here's an outline of some of the areas where these are being applied:

  • Communication
  • Airfield visual aids
  • Airfield geometry
  • Pilot, ATC and airport personnel training
  • Surface movement guidance systems
  • Airport procedures, and specially Low Visibility Procedures

According to Eurocontrol, the majority of runway incursions happen due to communication breakdown, ground navigation errors due to inadequate or ambiguous surface signs and markings and relevant information needed in the cockpit, and occur during taxiing out and departure operations.

You can find statistics for runway incursion incidents here from FAA, and here for Europe.

  • $\begingroup$ The procedures you mentioned to avoid runway incursions are almost the same which you mentioned which cause runway incursions. :) So basically you are saying that do these procedures to avoid and if you don't do them, you will encounter runway incursions. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Apr 14, 2014 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the feedback. I did wrongly imply that the list was a set of procedures, where in fact, are general areas where procedures, systems' implementation and training are applied in order to increase the robustness of the whole system against runway incursions. $\endgroup$
    – molgar
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:11

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