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FAA adopts ICAO definition for runway incursions
1 October 2007

Effective immediately, the FAA will use the definition for a runway incursion that has been adopted by ICAO.

The FAA is making the change so the worldwide aviation community will have a single runway incursion definition, which in turn could help in the search to determine common factors that contribute to these incidents.

The biggest difference between the two definitions is that ICAO defines a runway incursion as any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft presents a potential conflict. For the FAA, an incident without an aircraft in potential conflict — such as an unauthorized aircraft crossing an empty runway — was defined as a “surface incident” and not a runway incursion.

The new definition means that some incidents formerly classified as surface incidents will now be classified as C or D category runway incursions, which are low-risk incidents with ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.

The FAA has always tracked surface incidents, in addition to runway incursions. The new definition simply means that certain less severe incidents will be classified differently. All incidents tracked in the past will continue to be tracked.

The classification of the most serious kinds of runway incursions, Categories A and B, remains unchanged. The total number of Category A and B incursions has fallen from 53 in fiscal year 2001 to 31 in FY 2006. A and B incursions are on track for another drop in FY 2007, with 24 recorded through Sept. 9.

The FAA helped ICAO come up with its definition, which was adopted in November 2005. Before that definition was developed, countries around the world used at least 20 different definitions for a runway incursion. (FAA)