New runway conditions reporting guidelines from FAA will improve safety

This month, the FAA detailed new standards designed to increase safety at airports across the US.  Intended to reduce the risk of accidents caused by runway overruns and runway contamination following bad weather, these new guidelines will be enforced from October 1, 2016.

The new initiative – the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) – is the result of years of work by the TALPA Aviation Rulemaking Committee.  The Committee was created after the December 2005 overrun accident at Chicago Midway Airport, when Southwest Flight 1248 overran into a city street during a snowstorm.

Alongside the FAA, the ARC has now developed ways to reduce the risk of such accidents, allowing airport controllers and pilots to calculate how specific aircraft will perform in certain runway conditions.

As braking performance can vary from model to model, TALPA will allow air traffic controllers to communicate actual runway conditions to pilots in a way that is specific to the aircraft they are flying.  This will help the pilot operate the aircraft taking into account the airplane’s braking performance for the specified conditions.

Currently, airport operators and pilots make subjective judgments of runway conditions, but TALPA will lead to objective assessments that account for runway contaminant type and depth.  This will be achieved through the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM), used by operators to categorize runway conditions and by pilots to interpret the runway conditions reported. 

The RCAM will be used by airport operators to assess surfaces, report any contaminants and determine Runway Condition Codes (RwyCC), which will replace Mu numbers.  Once a pilot or dispatcher receives a runway conditions report, they can then consult performance data supplied by the airplane manufacturer to determine the aircraft’s expected stopping performance.

All US airports, general aviation pilots, dispatchers, flight crews, and air traffic controllers will begin using the RCAM on October 1.  While procedures now need to be developed in coming months to prepare for TALPA, this initiative could break new ground in the drive to increase safety and reduce accidents on the runway.

Leave a Comment