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OCR for page 1
PREVENTING VEHICLEAIRCRAFT INCIDENTS DURING WINTER OPERATIONS AND PERIODS OF LOW VISIBILITY SUMMARY This study sought qualitative information on factors affecting safe winter operations and the prevention of runway incursions by airport snow removal equipment operators. The infor- mation contained in this report can be of value to airport operators in their efforts to provide a safer operating environment when engaged in snow and ice removal operations during nor- mal and low visibility conditions. The objective of the report is to provide a compendium of existing practices, procedures, training, and systems that airport operators use to reduce the risk of vehicleaircraft incidents and incursions during winter operations and periods of low visibility. The synthesis considered commercial service and general aviation airports that have either a full-time, part-time, or no operating air traffic control tower (ATCT). Thirty-six airports participated in the study and represent a balanced mix of large-hub, medium-hub, small-hub, non-hub, and general aviation airports across the nation. Specific areas researched or reviewed for the report were as follows: Communication protocols and systems currently in use between winter operation vehicles, air traffic control facilities (both the ATCT and approach control), and between winter operation vehicles and aircraft at airports without an operating ATCT; Winter operational protocols at airports such as closing of runways, avoiding encroach- ment of auxiliary runways or taxiways, conducting winter operations between aircraft operations, and ensuring all winter operation vehicles are clear of a runway or a partic- ular area; Human performance factors that affect the situational awareness of personnel while conducting winter operations, such as fatigue, sense of urgency in operations, distractions in the cabin area, and vehicle design features; Equipment and vehicle design factors that affect the situational awareness of employees during winter operations and low visibility conditions; Training or training systems provided to airfield vehicle operators for winter and low visibility operations; and Availability of technology and commercial displays or warning systems that are, or can be, used to prevent vehicleaircraft incidents. Runway incursions are a major area of concern to the FAA, airports, aircraft operators, and the general public. There is an increased risk and opportunity for an incident or accident to occur between snow removal vehicles and aircraft during winter operations because there is an increase in the number of vehicles being exposed to aircraft. This increased risk and resulting errors are highlighted in the report through examples reported to the FAA and the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). The examples in this synthesis of practice provide numerous and varied ways in which errors can manifest themselves. Airport operator defenses against errors are also provided, including examples of procedures and methods various airports use to manage snow and ice events and to prevent runway incursions. This synthesis includes a synopsis of past, present, and future technology both in use and being considered for implementation.

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2 Information presented in this report is intended to be the first step in bringing the level of research and study into winter operations to a level commensurate with its importance in airport system safety. It is intended to raise the level of awareness of airport operators, gov- ernment regulators, industry providers, and others to the need for continued research and investment into this high-risk area. An accident involving snow removal equipment and an aircraft has the potential to result in catastrophic loss of life, injury, equipment damage, and financial and socioeconomic disruption. As an educational tool, this study's intent was to present airport operators with winter operation practices and procedures that may enhance the safety of their own operations. Issues arising from the study include the need for better research into the impact of operator fatigue during winter operations at airports and how to better manage fatigue; enhanced training and education within airport organizations; better methods for disseminating airport operat- ing conditions and information to pilots; better procedure manuals at all airports for incorpo- rating best practices for winter operations or low visibility operations; increased operator understanding of the nature of errors that occur during winter operations through better reporting of incidents and risks; greater opportunities for airports to acquire vehicles and newer technology; research into specific vehicle and cabin design parameters; and implemen- tation of a safety management system as a means for better evaluating decisions associated with operating procedures, staffing levels, coordination with others, and managing the pressures associated with snow and ice control and low visibility conditions.