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  • Nancy Baldwin

Runway Situational Awareness

Updated: Oct 23, 2023


On 29 March 2010, a Raytheon 390 Premier 1A (M-FROG) being operated by a small charter business called The World is Yours failed to taxi for a night departure in normal ground visibility in accordance with its clearance. It entered the departure runway 04R ahead of a Bombardier CRJ200 (EC-HHV) being operated by Air Nostrum for Iberia on a scheduled passenger flight from Nice to Barcelona which had just begun its take off roll. The CRJ crew saw the other aircraft and rejected their take off from a low speed, coming to a stop before reaching it.


An Investigation was carried out by the French BEA. It was established that the routes which had been followed by both the aircraft involved were as shown on the annotated aerodrome chart above:

It was established that the Raytheon crew had correctly read back their taxi clearance from their parking position to the holding point for a full length departure on runway 04R but it appeared that they had then become confused at the point where the taxiway centreline on taxiway ‘A2’ indicates two almost simultaneous right turn options, first onto taxiway ‘V’ (not in use and with the centreline unlit) and then onto taxiway ‘W’ (as cleared and with the centreline lit). The centreline lighting leading ahead onto taxiway ‘A3’ was also lit and the aircraft followed that line instead of the right turn into ‘W’ and then continued on ‘A3’ past the co located flashing Runway Guard Lights, marked runway entry Cat 1 holding point and its four embedded and flashing lights and the painted words ‘Runway Ahead’ and onto the runway where they turned right in the apparent belief that they were joining taxiway ‘W’. The crew reported that they “failed to notice that they had passed the holding point ‘A3’ and only realised that they were on the runway when they saw the white edge lighting”.

The Investigation found that at the time of the incident, both the AIP taxi chart (illustrated above) and the proprietary Jeppesen chart based on it failed to correctly depict the detail of the movement area layout at the junction of taxiways ‘A2’, ‘A3’, ‘V’ and ‘W’. This, and the use of lit taxiway centrelines on all taxiways available for use if so cleared (taxiway ‘V’ was not used when - as usual - landings were taking place on runway 04L) was identified as the key factor (apart from adequate crew vigilance) leading to the incursion. The actual layout at the taxiway intersections referred to above is shown below:

PHOTO HERE - awaiting software release for additional photos

The fact that, in the absence of surface movement radar and any system for detecting potential runway occupancy conflicts or a sufficient line of sight, “ATC was unable to estimate the precise position of the aircraft on the ground at that aerodrome location and was therefore unable to detect an error in the route taken” was also noted.

The formally-stated Conclusion of the Investigation was that “the incident was the result of the crossing of holding point A3 undetected by either the crew of the M-FROG or ATC”.

It was additionally concluded that whilst taxiing, the crew of M-FROG had encountered various problems which had made it difficult to locate their position, including:

  • the diagram of the junction of (taxiway A with) taxiways V and W on the aerodrome chart, which did not reflect reality

  • the lighting of taxiway A3, which probably distracted the crew’s attention

  • the extinguished lighting of taxiway V may have been responsible for the crew’s mistake while looking for the junction of taxiway W

  • the sign indicating taxiway W could not be seen clearly from the taxiway junction

  • the complexity of the area between runways 04L and 04R, which is an intersection of several taxiways and is very wide

  • the transition from the edge lighting to the reflective lighting

It was also concluded that the inability of ATC to detect the conflict and the low height of the Raytheon 390 cockpit also contributed to the incident.

Safety Action take by the Nice Airport Operator following the incident was noted as follows:

  • The Holding Point ‘A3’ has been designated as a Hot Spot - the first such designation in respect of runway 04R

  • The centreline lighting along taxiway ‘A3’ has been concealed and the use of this connecting taxiway has been prohibited at night.

Two Safety Recommendations were made as a result of the Investigation as follows:

  • that the DGAC should install equipment allowing ATC to detect and be alerted to the risk of a collision on the ground and in particular of a runway incursion at aerodromes with heavy traffic .

  • that the DSNA (the French State ANSP) should ensure that, at all aerodromes, the aerodrome charts precisely reflect the reality of the infrastructure.

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