FAA Tests New Taxiway Screens

EGG HARBOR TWP., N.J. - Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport safety researchers at the William J. Hughes Technical Center have created a prototype taxiway screen that can help prevent runway incursions at airports with taxiways that pass well beyond the ends of runways.

These screens can be placed at the end of a runway to block the view between that runway and an end-around taxiway. End-around taxiways are built beyond the 1,000-foot runway safety area.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson and Detroit's Metro airports have such taxiways, and one will be installed at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to facilitate aircraft movement between the runways and terminal gates without having to cross active runways. In addition to safer operations, the taxiways have the potential to increase capacity.

The two screens that will go up at Dallas-Fort Worth will be 700 feet long. Each will be 13 feet high.

The screens "hide" aircraft on end-around taxiways from the view of pilots preparing to take off on active runways. The screens give the pilots a point of reference, enabling them to focus on aircraft that are taxiing on the runways (in front of the screens) and to distinguish them from those moving on the taxiways behind the screens.

"This project helps address two of the FAA's key challenges: increasing airport capacity and reducing runway incursions," said Joan Bauerlein, FAA Director of Aviation Research and Development. "Our researchers are working on engineered solutions to improve safety at airports, especially those that are limited in their ability to expand."

The prototype system, built and tested by FAA researchers, is a 112-foot long, 13-foot high plastic cardboard screen set up on two mobile trailers, allowing for easy movement on and off the runway. The screens are being tested in different configurations.

The screens were set up recently at Atlantic City International Airport, at the end of the 10,000-foot runway 13-31. Researchers used an airport vehicle to simulate an airplane taking off, and videotaped its movement along the runway to see how well the screens blocked a pilot's view of the taxiway areas, beyond the end of the runway.

Upcoming tests will determine if the screen is more effective with chevron stripes or a checkerboard pattern. Testers also will study the effectiveness of reflective screening materials and the best lighting configuration to make the screens most visible at night. Also, the new screen will be double the size - increased to 224 feet in length - for the next set of tests. Testing is expected to continue through April.

This research is intended to support a national agency standard for end-around taxiway screens. Dallas-Fort Worth plans to install the first FAA-approved screens later this year.

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