|Date reported||15 December 2015|
|Concern title||The changes to the airport layout and taxiway markings|
The concern related to the changes which have been made to the taxiway markings and the notification to users of the airport layout changes.
|Industry / Operation affected||Aviation: General aviation|
|Concern subject type||Aviation: Airport|
The reporter expressed a safety concern in relation to the new marking of the taxiways and the notification of the changes to the airport layout.
The reporter advised that recently, a number of taxiways were changed at [location] Airport. The new taxiway’s now have signage that is not visible to pilots when they taxi off the runway. The taxiways are marked with one-way signs, visible from the other direction, and do not have stencilling on the ground. This leaves the pilots unsure of which taxiway they are operating on when they contact the tower controller.
A map depicting the changes was sent to all operators based at the airport, but this map was subsequently shown to be incorrect. The aircraft owners did not receive notifications of the changes to the airport layout. The NOTAM (valid to March 2016) released by Airservices Australia also advises pilots to refer to the ERSA which contains an old map of the airport and does not give an indication of which taxiways are closed.
Operator's response (Operator 1)
Rational for taxiway closures and new airport signs.
Between May 2011 and May 2012, there were 76 reported runway incursions at [location] Airport. To improve runway safety, this issue was included in the [airport] safety meetings. This forum includes representation from Airservices Australia, [airport operator], CASA and the chief pilots/flying instructors for the majority of the resident flying organisations at the airport. The team worked together to conduct a range of activities and implement numerous simple, low cost, robust controls to reduce the number of runway incursions.
These included the conduct of a runway incursion hotspot tour, in which the team was taken to known runway incursion hotspots to discuss the hotspot from their perspective (eg. air traffic controller (ATC), pilot, regulator, aerodrome). The team then implemented a range of measures both collectively and within their respective organisation to reduce runway incursions. These included:
- a review and update of aerodrome markings and signage
- taxiway requirements and usage
- improved education
- the inclusion of simulator training for taxiing around the aerodrome and introduction of procedures regarding preferred taxi routes by ATC and flying organisations.
Although there is still plenty of work to be done, the initial results of the coordinated effort by the team are fantastic with the number of runway incursions reducing from 76 to 33 between September 2013 and September 2014.
One of the mitigation measures agreed upon by the team was the closure of several key taxiway stubs with the goal of rationalising the taxiway system and reducing the opportunities to inadvertently cross-runways.
Many of these minor taxiway stubs were legacy taxiways from when the airport had [additional] runways. These legacy taxiways made for a confusing taxiway system with multiple crossings of runways.
To compliment the taxiway closures, an upgrade of the signs at the airport was completed.
These closures were trialled for several weeks with positive feedback from both operators and tower staff.
Direct response to comments:
- ‘…signage that is not visible to pilots when they taxi off the runway…’ – This was the case with the old signage – [airport operator] has not taken away any existing signs but has simply continued with the implementation of the new signs ensuring all mandatory holding points are marked as they are deemed critical for safety.
- ‘…and do not have stencilling on the ground’ – At this time the old stencilling has been covered up to ensure there is no confusion and [airport operator] intends to remark the taxiways with the new taxiway identifiers in the near future. However, it should be noted that taxiway identifier stencilling is not mandated within the Manual of Standards (MOS) Part 139.
‘A map depicting the changes was sent to all operators based at the airport, but this map was subsequently shown to be incorrect.’
The first map sent out to local operators, and the Tower staff, did have some minor errors showing the wrong taxiway identifiers for two of the minor taxiway stubs. This was quickly identified and the correct version was sent out to the same distribution list. [Airport] Tower staff reported that there had been no reported incidents or confusion as a result of the errors that were in the first map.
‘The NOTAM (valid to [date]) released by Airservices Australia also advises pilots to refer to the ERSA which contains an old map of the airport and does not give an indication of which taxiways are closed.’
There was a NOTAM issued for two weeks until AIP Supplement [number] was issued on the [date]. The NOTAM did not advise pilots to refer to the ERSA – it advised that permanent changes to the ERSA would be made. These are due in [date] – until the next ERSA publication the AIP Supplement contains the correct information and map.
[Airport operator] has received no other complaints concerning the new signs or taxiway closures.
However, [airport operator] is aware of several other unrelated complaints concerning safety at the airport to various agencies within the last six months including the Office of Transport Security, CASA, and Work Safe Victoria. All these complaints were proven to be unsubstantiated. These confidential reports have all been linked to the same individual who seems to have a personal vendetta against [airport operator].
[Airport operator] comprehensively consults users on all significant changes at the airport and maintains an open dialog on safety.
Regulator's response (Regulator 1)
CASA has reviewed the REPCON and is satisfied with the operator’s response.