Last week's Runway Safety Council meeting again noted that pilots caused two-thirds of runway incursions, and of those, 80 percent were general aviation operations. As instructors, we have a responsibility to help our students and customers remain vigilant in avoiding runway incursions. While knowledge is important, so is simple situational awareness. Many pilots know what a hold short line is, but when they're distracted, they may find themselves inadvertently crossing it while looking down to program a GPS, deciphering an unfamiliar airport layout, or fumbling over a complex clearance; indeed, 75 percent of pilot-caused runway incursions include crossing a hold short line without a clearance.
The FAA's continuing focus on runway-incursion prevention will soon lead to a change in practical tests; incursions will no longer be a special emphasis item, they'll be an area of operation in the future. This is expected to begin with the CFI practical test standards (PTS), followed by the private pilot, instrument pilot, and commercial pilot PTS. We support this change, and we recommend that instructors emphasize this material with their students, even before it becomes an area of operation on practical tests. We'll be sure to provide an update when this change occurs, including when updates to any of the practical test standards are made.
While serious incursions are down for the year-to-date, the overall rate is slightly higher than FAA's targeted rate, even while overall GA operations are down. Take the time to work with your local airport users; this isn't a positive trend, and the flight instructor community has the ability to reverse it for the remainder of the year.