Inappropriate use of Runway or Taxiway

Inappropriate use of Runway or Taxiway


The situation in which an aircraft inappropriately uses a runway or a taxiway. This inappropriate use includes the following situations:

  • Taxiway landing
  • Taxiway takeoff
  • Closed runway landing
  • Closed runway takeoff
  • Wrong runway landing
  • Wrong runway takeoff


There are multiple factors that can cause an aircraft to inappropriately use a runway or a taxiway. The most significant of these factors are:

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors have a significant effect on the risk of inappropriate use of a runway or taxiway. These include the following:

  • Rain/fog/snow: These can reduce the visibility making it more difficult to see signage, surface lighting, and surface markings from the cockpit, thus making it more difficult to determine the correct airport surface to be used.
  • Night: In nighttime conditions, the visibility is restricted to only taxiway/runway lighting and the limited area that the aircraft lights can illuminate.

Human Factors

There are several human factors issues that can have a significant effect on the risk of inappropriate use of a runway or taxiway. These include:

  • Distraction: This can cause an increase in the risk of using an inappropriate airport surface. Distraction can come in many forms:
    • Communication with the tower or ATC while trying to determine the correct airport surface to use
    • Late completion of a required checklist
    • Any issue in the cockpit that requires the crew’s attention (e.g. a warning light)
  • Situational Awareness
    • A detailed crew briefing of the airport layout, to include the active runway and all relevant taxiways, can reduce the risk of using an inappropriate airport surface.
    • A crew awareness of the location of specific items on the airport (e.g PAPI) will assist in determining the correct surface to utilise
    • Risk can be reduced while on the ground by utilizing a moving map display, if available
    • Risk can be reduced by the use of airport surface awareness technology to assist the crew (e.g. Runway Awareness and Alerting System (RAAS))
  • Fatigue: Any level of fatigue will make the individual/crew less alert and increase the risk of utilizing an incorrect airport surface
  • Monitoring: Many of the accidents and incidents that deal with the inappropriate use of a runway or taxiway display a lack of monitoring by the pilot monitoring. In many cases this is due to one of the factors already listed such as distraction or fatigue, and in some cases it is due to a lack of training in or execution of the monitoring function.

Airport/Aircraft Factors

Aircraft and airport factors play a large role in determining the risk of inappropriate use of a runway or taxiway.

  • Lighting
    • Aircraft taxi lights ineffective or not used: This restricts the visual picture available to the aircrew and may influence the aircrew’s ability to determine the correct airport surface to be used
    • Runway centerline lights: These assist the crew in determining the correct airport surface to utilise
    • Taxiway lead in lights that go all the way to the runway centerline help reduce risk
    • Non-standard lights or light pattern on the airport surface can increase the risk of using an inappropriate airport surface
  • Airport surface environment
    • Current and well maintained airport signage is a significant risk reduction factor
    • Multiple parallel taxiways and runways may increase the risk of using an inappropriate airport surface
    • Extra paved surface area can make it more difficult for the crew to determine the correct airport surface to use
    • Displaced threshold or intersection takeoffs and landings remove many of the normal visual references used to determine the correct airport surface to utilize and increase the risk of the inappropriate use of a runway for taxiway
    • Takeoff/landing area conspicuity (e.g. runway numbers, “piano keys”): These greatly assist the aircrew in determining/confirming the correct airport surface to use
    • Runway conspicuity, both lighting and painted/marked areas

Accident and Incident Reports

The following events featured a taxiway take of or landing:

  • B733 / DH8D, Fort McMurray Canada, 2014 (On 4 August 2014, a Boeing 737-300 making a day visual approach at Fort McMurray after receiving an ILS/DME clearance lined up on a recently-constructed parallel taxiway and its crew were only alerted to their error shortly before touchdown by the crew of a DHC8-400 which was taxiing along the same taxiway in the opposite direction. This resulted in a go around being commenced from 46 feet agl. The Investigation noted that both pilots had been looking out during the final stages of the approach and had ignored important SOPs including that for a mandatory go around from an unstable approach.)
  • B733, Amsterdam Netherlands, 2010 (On 10 February 2010 a KLM Boeing 737-300 unintentionally made a night take off from Amsterdam in good visibility from the taxiway parallel to the runway for which take off clearance had been given. Because of the available distance and the absence of obstructions, the take off was otherwise uneventful. The Investigation noted the familiarity of the crew with the airport and identified apparent complacency.)
  • B734, Sharjah UAE, 2015 (On 24 September 2015, a Boeing 737-400 cleared for a night take-off from Sharjah took off from the parallel taxiway. The controller decided that since the taxiway was sterile and the aircraft speed was unknown, the safest option was to allow the take-off to continue. The Investigation noted that the taxiway used had until a year previously been the runway, becoming a parallel taxiway only when a new runway had been opened alongside it. It was noted that the controller had "lost visual watch" on the aircraft and regained it only once the aircraft was already at speed.)
  • B734, Palembang Indonesia, 2008 (On 2 October 2008, a Boeing 737-400 being used for flight crew command upgrade line training unintentionally landed off a non precision approach at Palembang in daylight on a taxiway parallel to the landing runway. Neither pilot realised their error until the aircraft was already on the ground when they saw a barrier ahead and were able to brake hard to stop only 700 metres from touchdown. It was found that the taxiway involved had served as a temporary runway five years earlier and that previously obliterated markings from that use had become visible.)
  • B738, Oslo Gardermoen Norway, 2005 (On a 23 October, 2005 a Boeing 737-800 operated by Pegasus Airlines, during night time, commenced a take-off roll on a parallel taxiway at Oslo Airport Gardermoen. The aircraft was observed by ATC and stop instruction was issued resulting in moderate speed rejected take-off (RTO).)


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