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2007 San Francisco International Airport runway incursion

A runway incursion is an incident where an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway. This adversely affects runway safety, as it creates the risk that an airplane taking off or landing will collide with the object. It is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on April 27, 2006, as:

Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.

In October 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration dropped its own definition of "runway incursion" and adopted the above. The difference between the two was "that ICAO defines a runway incursion as any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft presents a potential conflict. For the FAA, an incident without an aircraft in potential conflict– such as an unauthorized aircraft crossing an empty runway– was defined as a 'surface incident' and not a runway incursion."[1]

The Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X) and the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) are computerized systems that are intended to alert air traffic controllers to the potential for a runway incursion.

Serious and fatal runway incursionsEdit

Audio of the 1 April 1999 runway incursion at Chicago O'Hare International Airport
  • Tenerife airport disaster - On March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747 passenger jets, KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736, collided on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport), on the Spanish island of Tenerife, Canary Islands, killing 583 people, making it the "deadliest runway" incursion accident in aviation history.[2]
  • Aeroflot Flight 3352 - On October 11, 1984, a Tupolev Tu-154B-1 hit maintenance vehicles on the runway while attempting to land in Omsk, Russia. The ground controller allowed maintenance workers to dry the runway during heavy rain and fell asleep on the job. 174 people aboard the aircraft were killed, along with 4 workers on the ground. This incursion is the deadliest aviation accident in Russian territory.[3]
  • In the 1972 Chicago–O'Hare runway collision, North Central Airlines Flight 575 (a McDonnell Douglas DC-9) collided during its takeoff roll with Delta Air Lines Flight 954 (a Convair CV-880) while the CV-880 was taxiing across a fog-shrouded runway at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, killing 10 people and injuring 17.
  • USAir Flight 1493 was a scheduled passenger flight from Syracuse Hancock International Airport, New York, to San Francisco International Airport, via Washington, D.C.; Columbus, Ohio; and Los Angeles. On the evening of February 1, 1991, the Boeing 737-300 serving the flight accidentally collided with SkyWest Flight 5569, a Metroliner turboprop aircraft, upon landing at Los Angeles.
  • 1994 TWA Flight 427/Superior Aviation Cessna 441 Conquest II, 22 November 1994: Cessna pilot error at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Pilot taxied to incorrect runway and was struck by departing TWA MD-80, 2 fatalities on the Cessna.
  • On 16 November 1996, United Express Flight 5925 was landing at Quincy Regional Airport when the pilot of a Beechcraft King Air started to take off on an intersecting runway. As the field was uncontrolled, the United Express pilots inquired whether the King Air was clear of the runways. They received no response except for a call from a Piper Cherokee saying they were holding short. The King Air and United Express collided at the intersection of the two runways killing all 12 on board Flight 5925 and the pilot and passenger of the Beechcraft King Air.
  • On 1 April 1999, an Air China Boeing 747, Flight 9018, taxied onto an active runway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport during the takeoff of Korean Air Flight 36, another 747. Flight 36 averted a collision by taking off early, missing the Air China aircraft by 75 feet (23 m). There were 8 people on the Air China jet, and 379 on the South Korean flight.
  • 1999 T. F. Green Airport runway incursion, 6 December 1999: In low visibility at night, a United Airlines 757 turned down the wrong taxiway and taxied onto the active runway just as a FedEx Express 727 took off. No collision occurred.
  • Linate Airport disaster, 8 October 2001: Scandinavian flight 686 collided on takeoff with a Cessna Citation registered D-IEVX that had turned onto the wrong taxiway, causing it to enter the runway.
  • 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami aftermath, Banda Aceh 4 January 2005: water buffalo on runway caused ground collision which seriously delayed relief flights.
  • On 20 April 2005 the airport perimeter of the now-closed Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador was breached with vehicles and angry protesters, which then proceeded to block the runway, resulting in the closure of the airport for several hours. This occurred as deposed President Lucio Gutiérrez attempted to flee the capital in an Ecuadorian Army Super King Air, shortly after being ousted by a popular revolt that same day, which forced him to leave Carondelet Palace (and later being finally removed by the Congress). The protester's assault forced the pilots to abort takeoff, after which Gutiérrez boarded an Army helicopter; which had earlier removed him from Carondelet Palace and took him to the airport, and fled to the safe haven of the Brazilian ambassador's residency in Quito before leaving into exile.[citation needed]
  • On 9 June 2005, US Airways Flight 1170, a Boeing 737-300, nearly collided with Aer Lingus Flight 132, an Airbus A330 at Logan International Airport in Boston after both flights were given nearly simultaneous clearances for takeoff on intersecting runways. The US Airways flight kept its nose down on the runway for an extended amount of time to go underneath the Aer Lingus flight and avoided a collision.
  • On 20 October 2014, a Dassault Falcon 50 collided on take-off with a snow plow that had strayed onto the runway at Moscow Vnukovo Airport, killing Total oil company Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie.
  • On 11 October 2016, China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5643, an Airbus A320 (Registration B-2337), nearly collided with Flight MU5106 of the same airline, an Airbus A330 at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, China, when the former was taking off on runway 36L while the latter was crossing the same runway under wrong instruction. The former performed a TOGA takeoff, managed to climb over the latter and avoided a collision.[4]


  1. ^ Takemoto, Paul (October 1, 2007). "Fact Sheet - FAA Adopts ICAO Definition for Runway Incursions". Federal Aviation Administration. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "Airport Runway Accidents, Serious Incidents, Recommendations, and Statistics - Deadliest Runway Accidents" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. December 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 23, 2015. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  3. ^ Лебедев, Михаил (May 31, 2007). "Tu-154B Omsk 11.10.84". Последний полет (last Flight) (in Russian). Archived from the original on October 30, 2007. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  4. ^ "Two China Eastern Jets in Runway Incursion at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport". China Aviation Daily. Retrieved October 16, 2016.