Runway excursions, Part 2: Minimising the likelihood and consequences of runway excursions, An Australian perspective


While most runway excursions are relatively minor with no serious injuries or aircraft damage occurring, they do have the potential to pose a serious risk to public safety and infrastructure. This has been illustrated by several significant runway overruns around the world in 2007 and 2008, resulting in hundreds of on-board fatalities, as well as ground fatalities and significant property damage in communities adjacent to airports.

Further analysis of the Ascend World Aircraft Accident Summary set of 120 runway excursions on landing involving commercial jet aircraft between 1998 and 2007 (used in the first report in this series), was performed to map the distance that aircraft overran or veered off the runway. Most aircraft stopped within 1,000 ft of the runway end, and within the extended runway edges.

Preventative risk controls are the most important way to reduce the likelihood and consequences of runway excursions. These include reinforcement of safe approach techniques, pre-landing risk assessments, line-oriented flight training, clear policies on go-arounds, quality runway surfaces with safety features such as grooving and surface texturing, runway lighting, and indicators of remaining runway length through distance remaining signs and cockpit alert systems.

If these preventative risk controls fail, recovery risk controls are an important 'last line of defence' to mitigate severe consequences if a runway excursion does occur. Recovery risk controls include runway strips, runway end safety areas, soft ground arrestor beds, and public safety areas. Telephone surveys of 43 major airports found that runway end safety areas in Australia meet or will soon meet Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements. A large majority of Australian airports had good quality runway surfaces that reduced the risk of a runway excursion occurring in the first place.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Author(s): Taylor, R. P. Godley, S. T.
Publication date: 26 June 2009
Publication number: AR-2008-018
Last update 18 July 2016