In the FAA's ACS and the PTS there are many references to preventing runway incursions. In the test standards one will find it is elevated to becoming a special emphasis area and within the CFI PTS, the mandatory runway incursion task is the longest and wordiest task. So clearly runway incursions is a special subject for the FAA.

I understand the safety importance of this, but what strikes me as odd is it seems there is too much emphasis on this subject. Most of the mentions are added as revisions of the text. Reading between the lines, did something like a specific incident cause these additions? Was there an emerging runway incursion trend that prompted this?

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    $\begingroup$ This is borderline opinion based for me as I don't think anyone would be able to say with certainty why the FAA adds specific questions to their tests. The worst fatal accident in history, the Tenerife Airport Disaster, was caused by a runway collision, and there have been others. So it's definitely on people's minds. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jul 26, 2021 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ Re: “did a specific incident cause these additions?” That’s not uncommon. It’s sometimes said that “the regulations are written in blood”, so it’s very well possible that someone did something so ignorant that a regulation or test question was created to address it. $\endgroup$
    – MD88Fan
    Jul 26, 2021 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


According to what I can piece together from various FAA sources, the FAA determined in 2007 that there were an unacceptable number of incursions and they launched a program to address them. Although the number of incursions did indeed drop, they later started increasing again. Presumably the FAA doesn't believe that the number of runway incursions is consistently low enough to 'relax' the emphasis on them.

2010 press release:

In 2007, after 25 serious incursions, the FAA launched a Call to Action with aviation leaders from airlines, airports, air traffic control and pilot unions, and aerospace manufacturers to address runway safety issues.

2008 report:

In August 2007, we met with more than 40 aviation leaders from airlines, airports, air traffic controller and pilot unions, and aerospace manufacturers under a “Call to Action” for Runway Safety. Together, we developed an ambitious plan focused on cockpit and air traffic procedures, training, increased awareness, runway/ taxiway layout, signage and markings, and the timely development and implementation of new technology.

2011 SAFO:

In August 2007 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator issued a “Call to Action” on runway safety. This included an internal challenge to the FAA to reduce runway incursions by 10% in five years ending in 2013. After the 2007 “Call to Action,” runway incursions involving pilots steadily decreased, however, as time has passed the trend has reversed.

2015 report:

Since this time, Category A and B runway incursions, events that represent the highest risk of a collision, have dropped by 44 percent since the last C2A. Seven years have passed since the last runway collision at a major airport and nine years since the last fatal runway collision. Despite this long standing trend, A and B events have recently begun to increase.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent information. Just a note, the FAA Runway Safety Program began in 1997. There have been a few reephasized initiatives since then (in 2007 for example). Here is some good info from the Flight Safety Foundation- flightsafety.org/asw-article/tracking-runway-incursions $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Jul 26, 2021 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ what a great answer. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Jul 27, 2021 at 12:56

As you have pointed out in your question, runway incursions are a significant emphasis. This extraordinary emphasis started many years ago (late 1990's) and for good reason. The number of ruway incursions resulting in potential and actual serious events was continuing to increase and, as a result, runway incursion mitigation programs were developed and have since been a focus and emphasis for ATC and pilots.

New airport design features (taxiway, runway, lighting , signage, etc.) pilot/controller phraseology, procedures, education etc., have been developed to address and mitigate the risks associated with runway incursions.

A General Aviation aircraft has been involved in the majority of incursions and that is the likely reason you see the emphasis in the ACS/PTS as well as various safety outreach programs and publications.

There is a huge amount of excellent info available regarding this subject. Here is a good link to use: https://www.faa.gov/search/?omni=MainSearch&q=Runway+Safety


Off the top of my head (have no stats at hand, too lasy to google), runway incursions are not very common, but considering the aforementioned efforts to prevent them, they are obviously way too common.

Runway incursion is an event with very possible and likely catastrophic consequenses, since should a collision be imminent after touchdown or during takeoff roll there is pretty much nothing either party can do. The one rolling on the runway has too much energy to stop quickly, or too little to lift off, and the one crossing or turning onto the runway cannot get out of the way due to slow speed and limited capability to accelerate.

The prudence of FAA is, of course, mostly aimed at high capacity/high traffic airports, where safety implications are obvious and very critical. In these cases the incursions also cause, in their less dangerous form, unnecessary load on traffic management in form of go arounds, and take up controller focus and time, possibly escalating to other more or less troublesome situations.

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    $\begingroup$ Just for information, in the US there were over 1200 runway incursions in the 2020 financial year: faa.gov/airports/runway_safety/statistics/year/… $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 26, 2021 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, that is quite many... what do the OI, PD and VPD stand for? $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Jul 27, 2021 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ type of surface events (operational incident [OI], pilot deviation [PD], and vehicle pedestrian deviation [VPD]) $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 27, 2021 at 11:18

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