Intersecting Runways Operations

Intersecting Runways Operations


Intersecting Runways: Two or more runways which cross or meet within their lengths.

Source: FAA JO7110.65 Air Traffic Control


Many airports have intersecting runways, often as a consequence of expansion but also to provide a minimal crosswind option where wind direction is variable. Although the use of both runways simultaneously may serve to increase flight efficiency, shorter approach tracks and taxi routes for example, there are significant inherent risks associated with simultaneous operation of intersecting runways; strict procedures must be in place to prevent a runway incursion.

In terms of total throughput, using just one runway in mixed mode will in most cases provide a similar capacity to that which is possible with both runways operating, but with a substantially reduced potential for runway incursion incidents.

Accidents and Incidents

On 25 September 2019, an ATR 72-600 about to depart from Canberra at night but in good visibility failed to follow its clearance to line up and take off on runway 35 and instead began its takeoff on runway 30. ATC quickly noticed the error and instructed the aircraft to stop which was accomplished from a low speed. The Investigation concluded that the 1030 metre takeoff distance available on runway 30 was significantly less than that required and attributed the crew error to attempting an unduly rushed departure for potentially personal reasons in the presence of insufficiently robust company operating procedures.

On 24 February 2010, a Garuda Boeing 737-800 misunderstood the runway exit instruction issued during their landing roll at Perth and turned onto an intersecting active runway. An expeditious exit from this runway followed and no actual conflict resulted. The phraseology used by air traffic control was open to incorrect interpretation by the flight crew and led to their premature turn off the landing runway despite a prior briefing on exit options.

On 20 October 2014 a Dassault Falcon 50 taking off at night from Moscow Vnukovo collided with a snow plough which had entered the same runway without clearance shortly after rotation. Control was lost and all occupants died when it was destroyed by impact forces and post crash fire. The uninjured snow plough driver was subsequently discovered to be under the influence of alcohol. The Investigation found that the A-SMGCS effective for over a year prior to the collision had not been properly configured nor had controllers been adequately trained on its use, especially its conflict alerting functions.

On 12 October 2016, a BN2 Islander and a Bombardier DHC8-200 were involved in a near miss after the DHC8 took off from a runway which intersected with the runway on which the BN2 was about to land. The BN2 broke off its approach just before touchdown when the DHC8 was observed accelerating towards the runway intersection on its take-off roll. The Investigation noted that the aerodrome involved relied on visual separation and use of a CTAF and found that although both aircraft were aware of each other, the DHC8 crew failed to fully utilise visual lookout.

On 5 October 2016, an Embraer 195 took off at night without clearance as an Airbus A320 was about to touch down on an intersecting runway. The A320 responded promptly to the ATC go-around instruction and passed over the intersection after the E195 had accelerated through it during its take-off roll. The Investigation found that the E195 crew had correctly acknowledged a 'line up and wait' instruction but then commenced their take-off without stopping. Inadequate crew cross-checking procedures at the E195 operator and ATC use of intermediate runway access for intersecting runway take-offs were identified as contributory factors.

On 17 August 2016, a Fokker F50 crossed an active runway at Adelaide ahead of an A320 which was about to land after both its pilots and the controller involved had made assumptions about the content of radio transmissions they were aware they had not fully heard. The Investigation found that the A320 crew had responded promptly to the potential conflict by initiating a low go around over the other aircraft and noted that stop bars were not installed at Adelaide. In addition, aircraft taxiing across active runways were not required to obtain their crossing clearances on the runway control frequency.

On 18 June 2010, an ATR 42 began a daylight take off on runway 28 at Zurich without ATC clearance at the same time as an A340 began take off from intersecting runway 16 with an ATC clearance. ATC were unaware of this until alerted to the situation by the crew of another aircraft which was waiting to take off from runway 28, after which the ATR 42 was immediately instructed to stop and did so prior to the runway intersection whilst the A340 continued departure on runway 16 .

On 31 January 2011, an Embraer 145LR being operated by Expressjet Airlines on a scheduled passenger flight from Cleveland OH to Dayton left landing runway 06R during a night landing in normal ground visibility and light winds and ended up on intersecting active runway 36. None of the 32 occupants were injured and only minor damage was caused to ground installations and the aircraft. No conflict with other aircraft resulted from the incursion onto runway 36 and after establishing that there was no major damage to the aircraft and after the taxiway route had been sanded the aircraft was taxied in to the gate for passenger disembarkation.

On 28 April 1999, a BAe 146-300 departing Birmingham began its daylight take off from Runway 33 without ATC clearance just prior to the touchdown of a PA38 on the intersecting runway 06. Collision was very narrowly avoided after the Controller intervened and the BAe 146 rejected its take off, just missing the PA38 which had stopped just off the runway 33 centreline. The Investigation noted the 146 pilots belief that a take off clearance had been issued but also that no attempt appeared to have been made to read it back or confirm it with the First Officer.

On December 6, 1999, United Airlines Boeing 757 failed to follow its taxi-in clearance after landing at night in thick fog at Providence RI and ended up at the edge of the runway it had just the landed on as a departing FedEx Boeing 727 passed very close by. The TWR controller, without surface radar available, then made unjustified presumptions about the 757s position and twice cleared a 737 to take off whilst the runway was still obstructed. Fortunately, the crew of that aircraft declined until safety was positively assured by the eventual arrival of the 757 at the terminal.

On 19 November 1996, a Beech 1900C which had just landed and a Beech King Air A90 which was taking off collided at the intersection of two runways at the non-Towered Quincy Municipal Airport. Both aircraft were destroyed by impact forces and fire and all occupants of both aircraft were killed. The Investigation found that the King Air pilots had failed to monitor the CTAF or properly scan visually for traffic. The loss of life of the Beech 1900 occupants, who had probably survived the impact, was attributed largely to inability to open the main door of the aircraft.

On 23 July 2006, a Boeing B737-300 operated by United Airlines executed an early rotation during a night take off when a Boeing 747 operated by Atlas Air was observed on a landing roll on an intersecting runway at Chicago O Hare Airport. The occurrence is attributed to ATC error.

On 2 July 2008, an Air Tran Airways B737-700 which had just landed at night on runway 34C at Sea-Tac failed to hold clear of runway 34R during taxi as instructed and passed almost directly underneath a North West Airlines A330-200 which had just become airborne from Runway 32R. The Investigation found that the 737 crew had been unaware of their incursion and that the alert provided by ASDE-X had not provided an opportunity for ATC to usefully intervene to stop prevent the potential conflict

On 2 December 2007, at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, after controller error, a CRJ-100 operated by Comair with a valid take-off clearance missed by 400 ft vertically and 400 ft horizontally an Airbus A320, which just landed with also valid clearance on an intersecting runway.

On 23 November 2002, an A319, landing on Rwy16 at Zurich Switzerland, narrowly missed collision with a B737-600 cleared for take off on an intersecting runway.

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