At 0557 Western Standard Time, an airport safety vehicle, Safety 2, entered runway 21 without a clearance during the operation of low visibility procedures. Prior to entering the runway, an air traffic controller used non-standard phraseology to instruct Safety 2 to conduct a runway visibility check.

In response to this incident, the Perth Airport Pty Ltd, the operator of Safety 2, has conducted a workshop for airport operations officers (AOOs) to reinforce the importance of seeking clarification of implied or unclear instructions from air traffic control (ATC). Training and procedures for AOOs are also being updated.

As a result of this incident, Airservices Australia will issue a Standardisation Directive to remind controllers of the importance of using standard phraseology for interaction with ground vehicles. In addition, they will review the industry communications document Airside Driver’s Guide to Runway Safety – Safe surface operations at controlled aerodromes to ensure that the document continues to be accurate and relevant for the promotion of runway safety performance.

This incident is a reminder that radio communications phraseology should be clear, concise and unambiguous. It is also a reminder to drivers of airport vehicle to seek clarification of ATC instructions, should there be any doubt as to the content or intent of the instruction.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 13