May 14, 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 four issues at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) in Southern California: minimal space between parallel runways, line up and wait, wrong runway landings and helicopter/fixed-wing operations.

At VNY, a general aviation facility that is one of the nation’s 50 busiest airports, the double-yellow hold lines are not uniform throughout the field. The minimal space between VNY’s parallel runways causes the hold lines to come up quickly after clearing a landing runway.

Pilots must vigilantly look for the runway holding position markings. When clearing a runway, get the aircraft completely across the line before stopping while also avoiding crossing the hold line for the parallel runway.

“Make sure you hold short of the parallel runway and remain on the tower frequency until instructed to cross,” said Joe Santoro, runway safety program manager for the FAA’s Western Pacific region. “The controller will coordinate the crossing of the runway and then switch you to ground control after you’ve cleared all runways.”

During line up and wait, which is used at VNY to stage aircraft on a runway for imminent departure, pilots should not depart without receiving takeoff clearance. If pilots seem to be sitting on a runway longer than necessary, they should exercise their pilot-in-command authority to confirm their last clearance.

To avoid wrong runway landings, which are increasing nationally, pilots should identify and read back their assigned runway. They should notice that runway 16R is longer and wider than 16L, and that 34R is staggered about 4,000 feet to the north of 34L.

“If pilots are ever uncertain about their landing runway, they should not hesitate to ask ATC for clarification,” said Santoro.

Also at VNY, where helicopter operations are common, helicopters should avoid overflying taxiing aircraft. To avoid rotor wash and inadvertently cutting off a moving helicopter, taxiing aircraft should be alert for hold instructions by the tower intended to provide ample space for helicopter operations.

“Since 2015, VNY has worked in close collaboration with airport tenants, users and operators to implement effective measures to reduce preventable vehicle pedestrian deviations (V/PDs),” said VNY Airport Manager Flora Margheritis.

“In contrast to the steady increase in the number of annual V/PDs reported at towered airports across the nation, VNY has experienced a downward trend with zero incidents involving a person or vehicle in 2018,” Margheritis added. “While we are proud of our excellent record, we must remain vigilant and appreciate the FAA’s ongoing efforts to increase pilot awareness and airport safety.”