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29 CHAPTER SIX SITUATIONAL AWARENESS Highlighted in a brochure from the FAA Great Lakes Region known as the theory of practice. If an individual's theory of were three actions that an individual driver can take to help the situation is aligned with reality, then a driver is more prevent incursions or incidents on the airport during snow inclined to make good decisions about what actions to take. removal activities (41): (1) maintain SA, (2) improve com- If an individual then has the set of skills and abilities to prop- munication, and (3) follow proper procedures. erly take action based on the assumptions (theory of practice), then a safe outcome is more probable. In a later bulletin, the Great Lakes Region reported during the 2006 to 2007 winter season that 20 vehicle deviations had A review of V/PD reports compiled by the FAA for occurred on airports in the region, of which 9 involved snow FY2007 and reports culled from the NASA Aviation Safety removal equipment (41). Six of those were classified as run- Reporting System (ASRS) database (see Appendix C) pro- way incursions that resulted in a conflict with an arriving or vide insight on how a lack of SA can contribute to an accident departing aircraft. The brochure went on to state the following: or incident. We see one common denominator in nearly all incidents involv- Following are two examples from the ASRS database ing snow removal equipment. Please do not underestimate the where SA may have played a role (43): importance of maintaining situational awareness while operating on the airfield at all times. Weather conditions, fatigue, and other factors play a role in detracting from optimum vehicle operator As our airplane accelerated towards V1 speed, both cockpit crew performance. members noticed the snow removal vehicle on what appeared to be a collision course with our aircraft and continuing towards the Many of the collision risk factors mentioned in chapter two runway at a rapid pace with no obvious signs of stopping before entering the runway. At some point very close to our V1 speed, can be addressed by thorough and proper employee indoctri- the driver of the snow removal vehicle appeared to very abruptly nation and training. And while this training generally does stop at a very close distance from the edge of the runway just as occur, the effectiveness of such training varies widely from we passed by him. We were able to continue our takeoff past him uneventfully. The snow removal vehicle driver was not exercis- airport to airport. The introduction of human factors involves ing due caution and safely operating his vehicle given the slippery knowledge of those factors that affect a person's SA. taxiway conditions. [ACN 540191] Generally, the ability of a driver to operate a vehicle safely is We were able to visually confirm that the runway of landing based on the perception of a situation, level of alertness, the was clear of snow removal equipment. We also noticed equip- amount of information available, and the ability to assimilate the ment removing snow on the crossing Runway 15/33. I men- available information (42). tioned to the captain that a snow plow was moving rapidly on Runway 33, from our left toward our landing runway (Runway 28). As we descended, we discussed that if we had to go around what the process would be. With our plan in place, as we INTRODUCTION reached 200 ft AGL, the plow proceeded to cross onto our run- way. Upon entering our runway, he made a turn that looked as SA was previously explained as being a continuous process if he realized his mistake, but turned out to be him setting up for his u-turn to go back onto Runway 33. . . . We made a of attentiveness and surveillance that results in an accurate visual pattern back around and landed without further incident. perception of the factors and conditions affecting an individ- Tower asked equipment people if they had been on the runway. ual and his or her environment during a defined period of We did not hear the reply. It pays to keep your eyes open, situ- time (28). ational awareness up, and be ready with a plan if things go awry! [ACN 496828] Two important factors contribute to SA. First is what a driver or operator assumes to be true about the situation he or Loss of SA and improper communication are not issues just she is experiencing or facing based on the facts he or she has for vehicle operators; it applies to ATCT controllers as well. available at any given time. This is known as the theory of the In a review of past studies, the MITRE Center for Advanced situation. Aviation System Development, the Runway Incursion Joint Safety Analysis Team, and the Volpe National Transportation Second is the set of skills and experience a person will uti- Systems Center determined an overwhelming number of both lize to address his or her theory of the situation. This is pilot and controller errors can be classified into the category of