Have you ever had runway confusion? This confusion could come from runway numbers closely aligned or even complex airport layouts. From one pilot to another, we’ve all had some confusion during one stage of training or another. Here are a few tips to equip you with better runway familiarity and ridding the chance of possible confusion.
Three major ways to avoid possible risks associated with runway confusion include:
I) Always remember ATC is there to help you, especially at unfamiliar airports. Make sure to request progressive taxi instructions. Progressive taxiing is essentially asking for step-by-step, turn-by-turn instructions to your destination runway or airport destination.
II) Always carry a current airport diagram, trace or highlight your taxi route to the departure runway prior to leaving the ramp. This also applies to when you are in the air. If you are a distance out from the runway environment and are unsure how you will enter the pattern, draw out your aircrafts heading and position on your airport diagram to the runway of intended landing. Be sure to listen to the airport ATIS to anticipate the runway in use before ATC tells you. Stay ahead of the aircraft if you can!
III) If departing on Runway 36, ensure that you set your aircraft heading “bug” to 360°, and align your aircraft to the runway heading to avoid departing from the incorrect runway.
Before adding power on the runway currently aligned, make one last instrument scan to ensure the aircraft heading and runway heading are centered.
It is important to review the current data for your airport or airports of use. Make sure you have these three common sources to obtain airport information.
I) Aeronautical Charts
- Map designated to assess navigation of aircraft. Make sure your charts are current!
II) Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Airport/Facility Directory)
- Contains information on airports, heliports, and seaplane bases that are open to the public.
III) Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs)
- NOTAMs are time-critical aeronautical information that include such information as taxiway and runway closures, construction, communications, changes in the status of navigational aids, and other information essential to planned en route, terminal, or landing operations.
- Types include FDC, SAA, FICON, Pointer, D, and military.
- NOTAMs are super important to understand the condition of the airport environment around you and how it can affect your awareness/routing.
These are a few very useful tips to help you familiarize yourself with unfamiliar airports and reduce confusion. Do you have any other useful tips to avoid runway confusion? Leave a comment below!