Training, cooperation make their mark on DFW’s runway safety program
On August 16, 2002, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport reached a significant milestone – one year free of runway incursions. Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations at DFW, explains that this accomplishment was achieved through training, education, communication, and the cooperation of all groups active on the airfield.
Last year, in an effort to make the runway a safer area in which to work, Crites’ operations staff developed what they call quarterly runway safety action team meetings. These team meetings involve airline pilots, FAA, people who taxi aircraft, and people who drive vehicles on the airfield. As the name implies, the group met quarterly to address issues and concerns for airfield safety and to develop solutions to problems.
Crites relates that many ideas came out of these meetings, including suggestions for improving procedures and signage, recommending different vehicle operating procedures, and enhanced training.
One of the training programs that was developed is the Aircraft Mechanic Taxi Program, designed especially for mechanics who taxi aircraft around an airport. The mechanics were provided with situational awareness training, taxiing instructions specific to DFW, and education on all the activities that occur on the airfield to make them more effective and safer operators. Crites explains that this is especially important for those new to DFW. "What we’re doing is giving a better situational awareness before they take that big aircraft out there and try to cross two runways to get to a hangar."
According to Crites, 150 technicians from Delta Airlines and 850 technicians from American Airlines participated in the training. "It’s people who create runway incursions, and it’s people who are going to prevent runway incursions."
Crites explains that initially when a vehicle operator is granted a license to taxi or drive on the airfield, he or she receives the training once, and then learns from experience. "What we’ve gone to now is annual recurrent training for all the vehicle operators to provide them with the latest that has happened over the past year, in terms of incidents, new procedures, and better situational awareness.
"The best way to prevent a runway incursion is through proper education and training of the people."
Another key to safety on the airfield is signage and knowledge of areas which may be of potential concern. To address this need, a "hot spot" map of the airfield was developed and distributed to those active in the area. The map highlights the sensitive areas of the airfield and details an incursion that happened in the past. Through studying this map, pilots, controllers, and others are able to develop a much keener sense of what could happen and how to deal with those situations.
Jim Crites, executive VP of operations, DFW
DFW has also taken on a perpetual Part 139 compliance program. "We view safety as a 24 hours a day, seven days a week operation, and that means we want everything to be perfect, from a visual guidance standpoint, on our airfield. Our airport is here primarily for flight safety," Crites states. Therefore, immediate attention is given to eroding paint, damaged signage, and other discrepancies that might occur.
DFW has dedicated aircraft fire and rescue roads, which circle the runways and active taxiways. Any new drivers unfamiliar with the airfield are required to have an escort. "We’re providing a customer service to get them where they are going as fast as we can, but we also preserve safety in not taking the chance with making a mistake," saus Crites.
At Dallas/Fort Worth Inter-national Airport, executive VP of operations Jim Crites and his team are leading the way when it comes to runway safety initiatives.