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Runway end safe areas should meet international standards: TSB


November 29, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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Transportation Safety Board of Canada reiterated this week its warning of a lack of runway end safety areas in Canada that meet international standards.

Airport runwayIn December, 2007, TSB recommended that Transport Canada require all runways, with a length of greater than 1,800 metres, “to have a 300 m runway end safety area (RESA) or a means of stopping aircraft that provides an equivalent level of safety.”

TSB, a separate agency from Transport Canada, investigates incidents in aviation, marine, pipeline and railways. Its recommendation on runway end safety areas was made in an investigation report into an incident Aug. 2, 2005 in which an Air France A340 overran a runway at Toronto International  Airport and stopped on the east side of Etobicoke Creek, situated at the west end of Runway 24. Twelve people were seriously injured.

“There is no requirement in Canada for runway end safety areas to meet international standards,” TSB stated Monday in a tweet.

TSB assesses the response from Transport Canada, to its 2007 recommendation, as unsatisfactory.


In 2014, Transport Canada commissioned an independent risk assessment “to establish implementation criteria for RESAs across all airport types in Canada,” TSB states on its website. “The risk assessment has been completed. On the basis of that RA, TC is in the process of developing options for the implementation of RESA. TC will then undertake a full cost/benefit analysis along with additional stakeholder consultation, before proceeding with drafting an updated Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) and revised regulatory language.”

In an update this past March, TSB warned “it is still not known whether these efforts will include a discussion about the possibility of 300 m RESAs on Code 4 runways,” defined as runways with a length of greater than 1,800 metres.

“Given that Transport Canada’s latest update provides no precise information, action plan or timeline to provide for 300 m RESAs on Code 4 runways at Canadian airports, Transport Canada’s response is assessed as Unsatisfactory,” TSB states.

“In 1999, Annex 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was amended and a 90 m (300 feet) RESA became the ICAO standard,” TSB noted in an investigation report into an accident in March, 2010, in which a Cargojet Airways Boeing 727-225 overran a runway at Greater Moncton International Airport. There were no injuries and the aircraft had minor damage.

“The combination of delayed touchdown point, higher than required touchdown speed, and standing water on the runway prevented the aircraft from stopping within the available landing distance,” TSB said in its investigation report into the Moncton, N.B. accident, released in October, 2011. “As a result, the aircraft overran the runway, coming to rest in deep mud.”

Runway overruns, unstable approaches and risk of collision on runways are the three aviation issues on TSB’s latest watch list, released Oct. 31, 2016.

“While some airports are making runway ends safer to reduce the risk of runway overruns, there is no requirement to do so for all major airports,” TSB stated in a press release Oct. 31.

That watch list is a list of “key safety issues” that TSB says “need to be addressed.”

For railways, TSB’s watch list includes following railway signal indications, crew fatigue management systems and transportation of flammable liquids.

The runway end safe area recommendation will remain on the watch list, TSB says, until:

  • pilots receive timely information about runway surface conditions to calculate the landing distance required, no matter the season;
  • Transport Canada requires appropriate RESAs at Canadian airports to reduce risks when a runway overrun occurs; and
  • major airports provide adequate RESAs or other engineered systems and structures to safely stop aircraft that overrun.


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1 Comment » for Runway end safe areas should meet international standards: TSB
  1. Andrés V. Galia says:

    I am really concerned because I have heard the minister of Transportation today (Mrach 30, 2017) talking about this issue and his concerns about costs and I have the feeling that the authorities are dragging their feet on this issue. I worked for a federal safety agency and I have some idea about how “independent risk assessments” are carried out to justify doing nothing.

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