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I was listening to "[REAL ATC] Eastern B737 (candidate Mike Pence) OFF RUNWAY at LaGuardia!"(1) and the LGA Tower asks for and receives reports of braking action from several landing pilots. I assume that this was during inclement weather, such as snow. Several pilots all report braking action as "fair" for their types.

How is "fair" determined? Is it totally subjective, or is there an objective measure? What are the classifications (of braking action) that a pilot can report?

(1) Please note, I did not tag this as LGA, since the question is meant to be a general one, unless each reporting is airport specific.

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The FAA issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO), "Runway Assessment and Condition Reporting" #16009 on August 15, 2016. In it, it says that:

enter image description here

You'll notice it doesn't say "Fair" anywhere on there, that is because this SAFO replaced the word "Fair" with "Medium" on October 1, 2016.

Pilot braking action reports will continue to be solicited and will be used in assessing braking performance. Effective October 1, 2016, the terminology ”Fair” will be replaced by “Medium” and pilot braking action reports will now describe conditions as Good, Good to Medium, Medium, Medium to Poor, or NIL. This will harmonize the NAS with ICAO standards.

(Emphasis mine)


Since the accident with Mike Pence happened on October 27, 2016, if a pilot was reporting "Fair", they were in violation of the SAFO and should have been reporting "Medium". You can read the NTSB report of this incident here.

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  • $\begingroup$ “In violation of a SAFO”??? That isn’t a regulatory document. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jan 28 '18 at 14:09

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