The Runway Incursion Avoidance Task

Page 1 of the new PHAK chapter.I just learned that the FAA published critical safety procedures back in April pertaining to the new runway incursion avoidance standards for pilot testing.  This is a surprise to me because I’ve taken several tests since April.  According to FAA Safety Notice NOTC3863, which I recently surfed into, that new information was removed from the public list of  notices in August.

Here is the critical bit:

A New Chapter has been added to the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) entitled, Runway Incursion Avoidance. This chapter, contained in Appendix 1, provides the information pilots will be tested and checked on.

This is where it gets weird.  I went to update my copy of the PHAK today, but found the 2008 version is still the latest copy on the FAA website.  I had also checked for updates in May, August, and October this year, and only found the 2008 version.

A new chapter has been added to the PHAK.  But it hasn’t.  To get the new chapter, you have to visit the link above, or download it directly from PHAK Appendix 1.  I hope the FAA will notice the problem and update the PHAK information. (The PHAK page was indeed updated on 11 Jan 2013 and now it includes the extra link.)

I will take notes from the new material and include them below.  One of the more interesting points is that the runway hold-short position might not be where you think it is!

Summary of Appendix 1

Although the chapter pertains mostly to surface movements for single-pilot operations, all of the information is relevant for flight crew operations as well.

The introductory section references AC 91-73 and AC 120-74.  The most recent copies can be found at:

Runway Incursion Overview

  • Definitions
  • Causal Factors
  • Runway Confusion
    • Runway thresholds in close proximity to one another.
    • Instructions to back taxi a different runway for departure.
    • Exercise extreme caution.
    • Align heading bug and aircraft to the runway heading.
    • Scan instruments (again) before adding takeoff power.

Taxi Route Planning

The following resources are mentioned in the new chapter.  While it does not state if or when these items need to be briefed, I would include all pertinent information in a pre-taxi brief at a non-towered airport, because the PIC is responsible for route planning.  The FAA does not consistently include non-towered airports in the definition of a runway incursion, but in this case such airports are specified in item 15 of the incursion avoidance task, “Knowing operations at non-towered airports.”

  • NOTAMs
  • ATIS
  • A/FD
  • Airport Diagram
  • Hot Spots

Time should be taken to study the airport diagram and anticipated taxi routes based on the information provided from the ATIS and NOTAMs.

You should not take for granted that the anticipated taxi route will be the same taxi route received from ATC, which is why it is so important to write down and read back the taxi clearance from ATC.

Taxi Procedures

  • Situational Awareness
  • Movement Area Boundary
  • ATC Instructions
    • Hold Short
    • Runway Crossing
      • June 2010 changes.  “This applies to all runways to include active, inactive, or closed.”
      • This is a good reminder.  In my experience, ATC is most likely to make mistakes in crossing clearances when taxiing on or crossing a closed runway.
      • “Scan the full length of the runway and the final approaches before entering or crossing any runway, even if ATC has issued a clearance.”
    • Line Up and Wait
      • “Position and hold” is no longer in use.  However, “traffic holding in position” is still used.
      • “Before entering the runway, remember to scan the full length of the runway and its approach end for other aircraft.”
      • “If a takeoff clearance is not received within 90 seconds after receiving the ‘line up and wait’ instruction, contact ATC immediately.”
      • “At night or in low visibility, consider lining up slightly left or right of centerline when holding for takeoff so that your aircraft is visible and can be differentiated from runway lights.”
    • Runway Shortened
      • ATIS will include the word “warning.”  ATC will not.
  • Landing
    • “While en route and after receiving the destination airport ATIS/landing information, review the airport diagram and brief yourself as to your exit taxiway.”
    • My intuition tells me this “en route” brief is supposed to be part of a descent or approach checklist.  AC 91-73B states that taxi briefs “should take place at a time when they are relevant and fresh in the pilot’s memory (e.g., before taxi and prior to initial descent for landing).”
    • The brief should include “any runway hold markings in close proximity to the exit taxiway.”  In other words, intersecting runways and hot spots.
    • “After landing, use the utmost caution where the exit taxiways intersect another runway.”
    • “Do not exit onto another runway without ATC authorization.”
  • Aircraft Lights
    • “Prior to commencing taxi, turn on navigation/position, strobe (only if the use of them does not adversely affect other aircraft), taxi, and logo lights.”
    • “Illuminate all external lights when crossing a runway. You should consider any possible adverse [effects].”
  • Non-towered Airports
    • “Line up and wait/holding in position is not recommended at non-towered airports.”


  • Common Phraseology and Read Back
  • Examples
    • “Ensure that when you read back a clearance for an intersection ‘line up and wait’ or intersection takeoff, you state the name of the intersection, even if the controller did not include it in the clearance.”
    • ATC may withhold landing clearance by saying “continue”.  I think of this as a non-clearance, and I ask myself if I’m comfortable with what ATC is doing when I hear that.
  • Light Gun Signals
    • This section specifically covers what to do if a radio failure occurs while on a taxiway or runway.
      1. Turn toward the tower.
      2. Flash landing lights several times.
      3. Wait for light signals.  If no response after “a few minutes” then..
      4. Broadcast in the clear on an alternate frequency.
      5. Call ATC via cell phone.

Signs, Markings, and Lighting

  • Runway Holding Position Sign
    • “You should never allow any part of your aircraft to cross the runway holding position sign (either a vertical or surface painted sign) without a clearance from ATC.”
    • I want to emphasize the above change because it suggests that stopping at the holding position marking, which is beyond the surface painted holding position sign, could result in a check ride failure.
    • Compare this to the AIM, paragraph 2-3-5(d) which only describes the color and location of a surface painted holding position sign.  There does not seem to be a regulatory requirement to stop there, but I am no legal expert and wouldn’t want to find out the hard way.
    • “When the tower is closed or you are operating at a non-towered airport, you may taxi past a runway holding position sign only when the runway is clear of aircraft, and there are no aircraft on final approach.”
  • Runway Holding Position Marking
  • Enhanced Taxiway Centerline Markings
  • Elevated Runway Guard Lights
  • Runway Safety Area Boundary Sign
  • Location Signs and Markings

2 thoughts on “The Runway Incursion Avoidance Task”

  1. Howdy,

    You probably won’t see this, as you haven’t posted since 2013. Congrats on that CFI job in north Texas! I’m sure since then that you’ve made your way to the majors, if not the regionals. I myself am working on my CFI initial and boy is it kicking my butt. Anyways, our syllabus is a bit dated and for tomorrow’s lesson I’m supposed to prep is about this topic and I couldn’t find the Appendix 1 for “Runway Incursion Avoidance” anywhere on the FAA’s website or archives. A quick Google search sent me here and wallah! So thank you! Great content, for what you had (some ten years ago haha).

    Mike Yost

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