Jan. 4, 2019

An FAA-produced video series aims to ensure pilots understand the unique runway safety challenges that exist at several general aviation airports. One such video focuses on three issues at John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA) in Southern California: runway exiting, runway incursion hotspots and helicopter/fixed-wing operations.

At SNA, which has closely spaced parallel runways, the hold short lines can come up quickly. After landing at Runway 20L for west parking, pilots should focus on safely exiting the runway and stopping with their tails completely clear of the double-yellow hold lines.

“Actively scan for the hold short lines, guard lights and surface and elevated runway signage, and make sure you hold short of Runway 20R,” advised Jeff Rountree, SNA’s manager of airside operations. “Ensure you read back all runway hold short instructions, and remain on the tower frequency until issued instructions to cross the parallel runway.”

To safely navigate runway incursion hotspots, pilots at SNA should familiarize themselves with the airfield.

“The SNA airport diagram identifies high-risk areas as published hotspots, which emphasize the importance, even for locally based pilots, of reviewing and actively using a current airport diagram during taxiing,” explained Joe Santoro, runway safety program manager for the FAA’s Western Pacific region.

At hotspot three, the transition from Taxiway A to join Taxiway C at Taxiway H is easily missed. Overshooting Taxiway C will put a pilot at risk of incurring runway 2R/20L.

“By actively scanning for and identifying all runway hold short markings, you are in the best position to avoid crossing them incorrectly,” Rountree said.

Also at SNA, which experiences extensive helicopter operations to and from ramps and parallel Taxiways A and B, helicopters should avoid overflying taxiing aircraft, and taxiing aircraft should be alert for hold instructions by the tower intended to provide ample space for helicopter operations. Airplane pilots should use caution to avoid rotor wash and inadvertently cutting off a moving helicopter.

“If pilots are ever uncertain, they should ask ATC to clarify an instruction or clearance by using the keywords ‘say again,’ ‘verify’ or ‘confirm,’” said Santoro.