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-   -   Incursions - How HIGH does a runway's airspace extend? (https://www.pprune.org/pacific-general-aviation-questions/647074-incursions-how-high-does-runways-airspace-extend.html)

Mutley Eugenius 5th Jun 2022 00:29

Incursions - How HIGH does a runway's airspace extend?
I have done some looking and I cannot seem to find any regs about the altitude limit of a runway's airspace in terms of considering incursions. If an airport has crossing runways and an aircraft is lined up on one, where another is taking off on the other, the second aircraft gets airborne and 'crosses' the lined up aircraft's runway at 100 feet, then this might be an incursion, but if another aircraft overflys the field above circuit height, then this is obviously not an incursion.

But what if the crossing aircraft was already at 500 feet AGL when he crossed the other runway. Would that be an incursion? What if the overflying aircraft was at 500 feet, AGL. Would that be.

I imagine that the runway's 'airspace' would extend up to circuit height. Is that an accurate estimation? I also imagine it might differ between controlled and non-controlled airports.

What are the regulations on this?

EXDAC 5th Jun 2022 00:57

I fly at a US airport with 2 parallel runways with typically separate tower frequencies for each runway. Each tower controller thinks they own their half of the airspace to the vertical and lateral extent of the class D. If you cross the extended division between the two runways inside class D without a clearance you can expect a "call the tower".

It's simple at this airport - stay on your side unless cleared to the other side.

Mutley Eugenius 5th Jun 2022 01:04

I fly in exactly the same conditions here at Sea Level Moorabbin, and lateral limits are one thing, but how high does your Class D extend? 2,500? Ours is 2,500, but I can easily fly from one side to the other at 1,500, providing I'm above circuit height of 1,000. Not the same there?

Mr Approach 5th Jun 2022 01:35

The definition of runway incursion only refers to the surface of the runway, there is no altitude above the surface involved. The FAA defines four types, and note under Cat D the word "incorrect":
  • Category A is a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided.
  • Category B is an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.
  • Category C is an incident characterised by ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.
  • Category D is an incident that meets the definition of runway incursion, such as incorrect presence of a single vehicle/person/aircraft on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft but with no immediate safety consequences.
The examples you give are, however valid but, need to be examined individually as potential airborne separation problems.
You cite crossing runways, so the detail is important. An aircraft or vehicle crossing the runway you are using is not an incursion, provided you are not landing or taking off. (i.e. you might be lined up, taxiing, or crossing). It also helps if you are aware of the other operation, indeed in the case that you are lining up, it is essential.
The altitude of the crossing aircraft, if airborne, becomes a problem for you, as the other pilot, if that altitude or manoeuvre will affect your flight. Even an aircraft overlying at 1000 feet could be a problem for a high performance departure, or lander going around, if the over flyer is travelling in the same direction you want to go! You might climb up underneath the other aircraft or catch it up.

The permutations are probably endless, but I hope this helps.

Mutley Eugenius 5th Jun 2022 01:44

Thanks Mr Approach, it is a great clarification, and a bit surprising, Theoretically, per this, two aircraft taking off at the same time, colliding at 20 feet AGL at the point of the intersecting runways would be a 'collision', but not a 'runway incursion'.

I take it you are in the US, and that this is a US only clarification, unless it is ICAO and CASA has adopted it here in Australia. I imagine I should go and talk to a couple of ATC guys at my airport and find out what they apply here.

43Inches 5th Jun 2022 02:04

The laws are pretty clear about runway separation between landing and taking off aircraft with regard to the runway strip, this would be an incursion. However once airborne the general rules of the air apply and you have to think ahead as to your flightpath. A high performance jet or turboprop taking off from a long runway will be above circuit and even overfly height possibly by the end of the runway. So what could be construed as dangerously close is not protected by the fact you were just at circuit height, if you decided to fly directly infront of something departing, normal right of way rules would apply. In relation to landing and taking off right of way that commences at the airfield boundary and ends at the prescribed distances on take off, it just states that the landing aircraft has right of way whilst landing or final approach, lower aircraft has first try, but can't use lower excuse to overtake etc... and they can't proceed past the runway boundary if the runway is occupied, the definition of occupied is specified.

Lead Balloon 5th Jun 2022 08:32

Why do you care at an aerodrome under air traffic control? It’s ATC’s responsibility to make decisions and issue instructions to prevent collisions. Your job is to comply (and to assume ATC’s stuffed up - I learnt that from a very experienced ATCer).

For aircraft operating at and in the vicinity of aerodromes in G: Don’t collide.

Mutley Eugenius 5th Jun 2022 13:22

Well, as your self-deprecating answer has stated, I care because I assume that ATC has stuffed up. I am still the PIC and therefore responsible beyond ATC.

Lead Balloon 6th Jun 2022 01:28

That assumption can operate only so far, practicably. Cleared to land when there’s an aircraft sitting on the piano keys or cleared to cross a runway with one about to touch down on that runway are obvious examples of when we should ‘add (safety) value’. (Fortunately, never happened to me BTW. I think that the ATC/Leaddie stuffup ratio for the last few decades is 1:100.) But second-guessing ATC in relation to aircraft of which you may not be aware or may not be able to see may be a path to madness.

I’ve seen the dirty belly of a crossing aircraft ‘up close and personal’ only a few times: A couple of times in V1 under aircraft on approach to 34R YSSY and once in Class E when a crossing Dash 8 levelled off during descent and crossed at 500’ directly above me. (In the latter case the Dash, Centre and me were all identified and in contact.) All looked much closer than 500’ above me, but that is a consequence of how big they are and the rareness of the circumstances.

le Pingouin 6th Jun 2022 04:57

A runway incursion is defined as:

ICAO defines a runway incursion to be “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” (ICAO Doc 4444–PANS-ATM).


i.e. it's only on the ground, there is no airspace involvement.

compressor stall 6th Jun 2022 12:36

SO under that definition, what was Tenerife then? KLM was airborne.

B2N2 6th Jun 2022 12:53

Originally Posted by compressor stall (Post 11241685)
SO under that definition, what was Tenerife then? KLM was airborne.

As far as Iím aware the KLM rotated early after seeing the Panam aircraft.

Back to the original question.
At my home airport we had a limousine driver misunderstanding pick up instructions and he crossed the active runway. No airplane in sight so a runway incursion of the lower category.
He didnít have a clearance to be where he was.
If we have two aircraft airborne after taking off from two intersecting runways we obviously have a bigger problem.
But the near miss in itself is not the runway incursion. That occurred when one of the aircraft entered the runway without a clearance.
Runway or taxiway incursions are surface based incursions, not having an ATC clearance for where you at or for what you are doing.
Hope that helps to clear up any confusion.

le Pingouin 6th Jun 2022 12:54

One aircraft wasn't meant to be on the runway.........

Mutley Eugenius 6th Jun 2022 15:39

Spoke to my tower controller today. He reckons a runway incursion is only at surface level and only when ATC / SMC is active. My airport turns to CTAF at night during which it's pretty much all at pilot discretion. However, I was airborne in the vicinity of 2 incidents recently in CTAF hours which prompted my questions - one of which actually caused the tower to urgently open 15 minutes early to stop a situation that they were watching develop, (because they actually start watching about half an hour before opening) and another which was much less of a concern, but a concern nevertheless. Luckily, I was able to talk over both situations with him, and also he was in the tower on both occasions and knew exactly what I was talking about. He gave me their viewpoint on it and I gave him mine, and it was a valuable discussion in terms of clarifications for both of us, and we both determined that there are some things we should probably read again. He also told me that a runway's vertical clearance does not have a finite limit but goes as high as is necessary for safe separation between aircraft. Go-Arounds could necessitate higher runway vertical limits than touchdowns. Helicopters often cross runways at low altitudes while aircraft are maneuvering but risks and clearances are constantly and fluidly monitored. I found that the discussion left me with a high appreciation for what ATC are doing, and also helped to establish mutual respect as opposed the frequent mutual animosity that I see in many pilots.

I would encourage others to find their towers number and call them (during quiet times) after any concerning incidents to make sure all aspect of any situations are known, and to discuss how anyone's performance or professionalism could be improved. It should serve to ease any tensions in sane people.

Traffic_Is_Er_Was 6th Jun 2022 21:28

He reckons a runway incursion is...only when ATC / SMC is active.
Rubbish. You can have a runway incursion at any time anywhere. ATC just think of them differently. You enter an ATC controlled RWY without a clearance, irrespective of whether it's in use or not, that's an incursion. You enter that runway when it's a CTAF and no one is using it, it's not. An aircraft on short final and you enter in front of him, that is. The defining fact is "incorrect presence". Deciding what is "incorrect" OCTA...that's the punchup at the tie downs later.

tossbag 7th Jun 2022 10:25

because they actually start watching about half an hour before opening
mmmm............I've never known an ATC to be at work 5 minutes early, let alone 30.

Awol57 7th Jun 2022 10:50

Originally Posted by tossbag (Post 11242143)
mmmm............I've never known an ATC to be at work 5 minutes early, let alone 30.

That's fairly normal at a non 24H tower

tossbag 7th Jun 2022 11:01

What's fairly normal? 5 mins before? Or 30?

Awol57 7th Jun 2022 11:09

Being there early. The 2 non 24H towers I've worked at, one was 30 mins before opening the other 15mins. Depends on what needs doing prior to opening.

tossbag 7th Jun 2022 11:18

:D :}

So you're saying that ATC's are turning up 30 mins prior to open, unpaid, before their shift start time?

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