In this piece, ANTHONY AWUNOR looks at the efforts aimed at providing aviation solutions, particularly on runway safety issues.

Runway safety represents a safe flight from its start to its conclusion. It continues to be one of International Air Transport Association (IATA’s) highest priorities as it remains one of the most serious threats to aviation safety.

Over the years analysis of accident data has identified that the “runway excursion” category, where the aircraft departs the runway during takeoff or landing, is the most common type of accident reported annually.

Experts have however, opined that runway excursion can result in loss of life, and injury to persons either on board the aircraft or on the ground. According to them, it can also lead to damage to aircraft, and airfield or off airfield equipment including other aircraft, or buildings struck by the aircraft.

Traditionally, runway excursions occur while an aircraft is either taking off or landing. They can be attributed to one or multiple factors ranging from unstable approaches, failure to go around, and the condition of the runway. It is essential that all parties involved (such as Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, Airport Authorities, Air Navigation service Providers) work together to mitigate the hazards that result in an accident.

At landing, aircraft can overshoot or skid off the runway during the rains, so there are measures taken to ensure that at landing aircraft have grip on the runway.

These important safety checks may be taken for granted by passengers who are largely oblivious of efforts made to ensure their flights are safe, but these efforts are made by the airport management and specialists who train and are prepared to provide this unique service.

The aviation industry worldwide is highly regulated due to the probable or actual outcome in the event of an incidence or accident and as we all know, “there is no parking space in the sky”. The regulation under consideration is that of aircraft landing surface friction.

To ensure that the runway provides surface grip for aircraft tyres, Surface Friction Tests are carried out on a runway or a helideck to verify the value of friction on its surface. This frictional value informs the ability of the aircraft or helicopter to safely land without exceeding the surface provided.

Runway Safety Issue

A runway safety issue is any safety issue that deals with runway environment (or any surface being used as runway) or the areas immediately adjacent to it (e.g. Over-runs, high speed taxiways). Others are runway incursion, excursion and confusion.

Runway incursion is any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take- off of aircraft”

Runway excursion is an incident involving only a single aircraft where it makes an inappropriate exit from the runway”. This can happen because of pilot error, poor weather, emergency, or a fault with the aircraft.

Runway confusion involves a single aircraft, and is used to describe the error when the aircraft makes “the unintentional use of the wrong runway, or a taxiway, for landing or take- off”.

Factors Contributing To Runway Incursion

According to expert, there are several factors that contribute to runway incursions, which include: weather factors, airport factors, ATC factors, crew technique factors, and communications.

Meanwhile, aviation experts have suggested that the following recommendations, known as best practices, will enhance the safety of runway operations through the consistent and uniform application of existing ICAO provisions, leading to predictability and greater situational awareness.

Enters Rovaty Aviation

To address the issues of runway safety mentioned above, an aviation company, Rovaty Aviation Nigeria Limited has ventured into the herculean task of providing surface friction test solutions and other aviation industry services. Rovaty Aviation Nigeria Limited is a service provider for bespoke aviation solutions. Years of experience from her involvements in this service have made her the top provider of this service in the whole of West Africa.

Rovaty Aviation is currently the only Nigerian company that provides runway and helideck surface friction test service. Partnering with ASFT Industries of Sweden (for technical support), her services are multifaceted.

Rovaty Aviation is equipped with compliant vehicle integrated friction test equipment for runways and also equipped with T2GO test equipment for helidecks, both types of equipment being International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Regulation (NCAA) compliant and manufactured by her partner ASFT Industries of Sweden. With this equipment, the company keeps building capacity to proffer more solutions in this safety critical aspect of Aviation operation.

Frequency Of Assessment

The interval for runway surface friction assessments in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority advisory circular NCAA-AC-ARD014 is based on the number of landings at the runway per day. The annual test is recommended for 0 to 15 landings per day.

Frictional values of new or repaired/maintained runway surface are required before commissioning or returning it to service.

Helideck surface friction assessment is carried out annually, before commissioning of a new build or following painting or repairs.

Regular or scheduled runway surface friction measurement/tests are critical as they provide the necessary data to maintain adequate frictional value to eliminate or reduce runway overshoot/excursion related incidents or accident and ultimately saves lives.

Rovaty Aviation says it appreciates the opportunity to partner with airport/aerodrome operators in Nigeria and West Africa to improve the overall safety of aviation operation.

The company uses this opportunity to encourage stakeholders to take advantage of their service to ensure regulatory compliance that will further enhance the safety of air operations in their facilities.