Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Right of way?

OK, between an airplane and an SUV, who has the right of way?

WFAA posted video of a single engine Cessna landing at Aero Valley Northwest Regional Airport Saturday.  The new pilot's wife was recording his first solo landing.

All was going well until an SUV crossing the flight path at the north end of the runway failed to stop and yield to the oncoming aircraft.

As the video shows, the aircraft's right main landing gear was clipped off on the SUV's roof.  Ouch!

Now, if you're not familiar with this airport, and only saw this video, you might wonder why a road runs right next to the end of the runway - and the simple answer is - to get to the other side.  The road in question is not a thoroughfare - it accesses only other airplane related addresses (hangars/homes/businesses) that are related to the airport.  It is the way in and out from the east section of the airport (that is, unless you drive across the middle of the runway), so no one driving over there can claim that they were going from point 'A' to 'B' and didn't know there was an airport there.

As it happens, the SUV driver has apparently admitted he's made that crossing several times before to eat at an airport café, so clearly he's aware of the runway. It was daylight and the weather was clear.

The report mentions there's no stop sign, other than painted on the roadway, at the edges of the crossing.  That's because things that stick up out of the ground next to runways are frowned upon, especially so by pilots of low-wing aircraft.  However, if memory serves, the airport entrance monument sign, just before the crossing, does alert automobile drivers to be alert for landing and departing aircraft.

I've made that same crossing dozens of times by car, and have [as co-pilot] landed or taken off there a few times as well, and have had occasion to drive on runway/taxiways at other facilities.  The point is, at such places it's imperative to carefully scan the area, both on the ground or in the air, for moving aircraft, and that apparently didn't happen here.

Thankfully, no one was killed or seriously injured.

1 comment:

RPM said...

According to the report, it is a private road that is not on airport property. If that's the case somebody screwed up badly by not putting more precautions in place.

It reminds me of the airport in Placencia, Belize. The road is inches away from the end of the runway. But they installed speed bumps, flashing lights and a gate system to stop traffic during flight ops. That's in a 3rd World country fer cryin out loud.