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Runway Incursion

A runway incursion is any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft presents a potential conflict. This is the international standard, adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

It is important to note that the FAA formerly tracked incidents that did not involve potential aircraft conflicts as surface incidents. These incidents were not classified as “runway incursions” and were tracked and monitored separately. Most of these events are now considered Category C or D incursions, which are low-risk incidents with either no conflict potential or ample time or distance to avoid a collision. This means that the total number of runway incursion reports increased primarily because surface incidents are now classified as runway incursions.

There are four categories of runway incursions:

  • 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 characterized 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.

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