As pilots, passengers, safety managers, and ground support, we are all affected by how efficient our national airspace system is. Whether it is in the air, taxing on the ground, or in the terminal, we have all had to deal with a delay of varying lengths. Most of the inefficient use of our time is due to ground delays. Ground traffic flow is the movement of aircraft to and from the runway as planes arrive and depart. It is vital to the smooth and continuous operation of an airport since ground flow directly impacts the sequencing of departing and arriving aircraft. Ground traffic flow consists of pushback, taxiing, receiving taxiing, departure, and arrival clearances. At many congested airports, there is an excessive amount of backed up and even stopped traffic on taxiways due to the loading and unloading of passengers and cargo. At airports like Chicago O’Hare you can experience delays up to several hours because of an overflow of traffic at either the departure or arrival airport. There have been stories of different airplanes (ex: Delta airlines) being delivered pizza due to a delay on the ground because of severe storms. Another is an entire airplane passing time by singing “I Believe I Can Fly” to lighten the moment. At smaller general aviation airports, you may not think there could be delays. However, in order to receive a departure clearance at an uncontrolled field the surrounding airspace has to be clear of traffic and no planes can be on an approach nearby. The following pages provide evidence, examples, justification, and future designs that will provide a smoother transition from the gate to the air or vice versa by implementing new procedures and technology on top of what is currently taking shape.
Aviation today is a constantly changing industry. It has been evolving since the Wright brothers invented their first aircraft back in 1899. The reason why the aviation industry evolves is all based around safety and security of pilots and passengers flying today, tomorrow, and for as long as humans travel in the air. Many past mistakes that have occurred can help us make the industry safer and more efficient. Specifically, attention will be focused on the ground and how runway incursions have had an impact on the safety of aviation and what has been done to improve the safety based on what problems have occurred in the past. A Runway Incursion is an incident where any unauthorized person, vehicle, or aircraft is on an active runway. A major factor within Runway Incursions are ramp accidents. According to Pierobon (2013), “Ramp accidents cost major airlines worldwide at least $10 billion a year” (p. 1). The airline industry has taken many steps in trying to change the previous statistic, but once an issue is resolved another one seems to arise. Another statistic that is more frightening is the injury rate is 9 per 1,000 departures. That comes to be about 243,000 people per year as shown on flightsafty.org. Unfortunately these statistics are increasing yearly. A good example to show how deadly a runway incursion can be is a crash that transpired in Milan, Italy. A plane owned by Scandinavian Airlines was on take off roll beginning its flight to Denmark when the airliner hit a private jet crossing the runway. The accident on the runway was so horrific that it is considered Italy’s worst aviation disaster so far. The crash killed all 118 people on board both aircraft. Keep in mind these factors are not uncommon and take place regularly. On that particular day there was limited visibility, so much that the tower had trouble seeing everything on the ground. There was no surface ground radar helping ATC in locating aircraft on ramps, taxiways, and runways. Limited visibility and no surface ground radar prohibit an aircraft from crossing a runway (AIM 4-3). The final piece to the puzzle was the private jet was found to be on the incorrect taxiway. Nobody could understand why, but