On 16 and 17 May 2012, three aircraft were operated on scheduled passenger flights from Gladstone to Brisbane, Queensland without the runway lights being activated for departure.
The runway lighting was controlled by a pilot activated lighting (PAL) system that was combined with an aerodrome frequency response unit (AFRU). To activate the runway lights, pilots were required to make a sequence of three transmissions on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). A number of situational factors were associated with the crew not activating the runway lights prior to departure.
Defining a specific place for PAL tasks in the crew’s sequence of procedures, and incorporating this into a pre-taxi checklist, could potentially ensure more reliability in performing these tasks.