by Jonathan Hendrickson
Many of us could use a little refresher on runway communications and protocol. This system keeps our pilots and aircraft safe and prioritizes runway use.
Runway Communications are verbal announcements required to be used between you and any other pilots anytime you or your aircraft enters the runway area (grass or paved).
· "Coming out" as you prepare to place your aircraft on the runway or taxing to the runway.
· "Taking Off" aircraft is on the runway and ready for takeoff roll.
· "Setting up to land" as you begin your downwind leg gives others time to clear the area for you.
· "Landing" as you are on final approach.
· "On the runway" if your aircraft stops dead on the runway.
· "Off on the far side" if your aircraft veers off on the side away from the pilots'stations
· "Crossing the runway" Anytime you have to cross the runway (in either direction).
· "Runway clear" after you have retrieved your errant aircraft, or if it has been taxied off the runway on the pit side.
· "Dead stick" when your engine dies while in the air. Other pilots will pass this announcement down the line as it is a signal for everyone to immediate clear the runway.
· "Touch and go" or "Slow fly-by" (note that high speed low passes and acrobatics over the runway when other pilots are at stations are forbidden-these may only be performed out past the runway over the grass).
· “Low Pass” is a high or low speed pass a low altitude over the border between the asphalt and grass runways.
· Aircraft down..... ''(followed by the general area).
· "Don’t have it" The pilot will announce that he has a problem as soon as possible, other observers may be able to get a fix on the plane if it goes down. If you do get a fix, such as a certain tree, etc., do not move. Call for another person to stand beside you and show them the point you fixed on. Even turning around and back can lose the fix.
Most SLRCFA members are fluent in runway communication, but new members and guest may need a little help.
Runway Protocol/Priorities allow multiple aircraft operating in close airspace to land and/or maneuver on or over the runway in an orderly and safe manor. This list below is in order of priority.
1. Declared “dead stick” landing has priority over all other flight activities. The runway must be cleared for him. If more than one happens at the same time, generally, the first declared has the right-of -way, or he may yield to a lower other aircraft at his discretion.
2. Declared “equipment problem” and needing to land ASAP.
3. Declared normal “landing.”
4. Declared “touch and go.”
5. Declared “take off.”
6. Declared “slow fly-by.”
High speed low-passes over the paved runway are never allowed and must be performed past the far edge of the paved runway.
Hovering over the paved or grass runway is NEVER allowed while there is an established pattern. If there is no established pattern or you are the only pilot flying, you may hover no closer to the pilot’s stations than the paved runway center line. However, if you are the only pilot flying and all other pilots present approve, you may move from the pilot’s station to get closer to your aircraft.
If more than one pilot is flying, the established pattern must be followed. Takeoffs and landings will be all in the same direction unless the wind changes and all pilots agree to reverse the pattern.