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Training Tip: Signs and wonders

Knowing the answers will help you sail through knowledge and practical exams and keep you and other airport users safe beyond the tests.

But this isn’t just about passing tests. It’s no wonder that knowledge gaps and adverse outcomes go together in the real world of piloting.

“General aviation pilots of all experience and certificate levels account for the majority of runway incursions each year—usually caused by miscommunication, failure to comply with signs and markings, or simply getting lost,” notes this AOPA Air Safety Institute Safety Center, which has links to training materials including the Runway Safety online course from the AOPA Air Safety Institute.

According to the FAA, a runway incursion is “any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft.” Incursions come in four categories of severity (short of an accident).

Aside from incursions, a surface incident is the “unauthorized or unapproved movement within the designated movement area” or an occurrence in those areas associated with aircraft operations that undermine safety.

The FAA also continually brainstorms new ways to raise the consciousness of GA pilots about airport-surface safety, as we recently reported upon release of new content for its Runway Safety Pilot Simulator tool.

Returning to the opening two questions:

  • The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (Page 14-8) notes, “As you approach the runway, two solid yellow lines and two dashed lines will be visible. Prior to reaching the solid lines, it is imperative to stop and ensure that no portion of the aircraft intersects the first solid yellow line. Do not cross the double solid lines until a clearance from ATC has been received.”
  • A runway holding position sign with white characters outlined in black on a red background “is always collocated with the surface painted holding position markings and is located where taxiways intersect runways.” (See Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge Page 14-7.)

In either scenario, when the tower is closed or during operations at nontowered airports, make sure the runway is clear and no aircraft are on final approach before taxiing onto the runway.

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