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Pearson runway 'incursions' pose serious crash risk: safety board

Last Updated Jan 31, 2019 at 6:54 pm EST

Air safety authorities say the runway setup at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport poses a serious risk of crashes.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said there were 27 runway incursions between June 2012 and November 2017.

Incursions occur when an aircraft finds itself on the wrong runway.

The board said the incursions all involved aircraft that landed on an outer runway but ended up on an adjacent inner runway.

The incidents occurred despite instructions from air traffic control to stop before entering the second runway.

The report cites design problems with the airfield and busy flight crews missing various cues.

“All 27 incursions examined involved flight crews who understood they needed to stop, and that they were approaching an active runway,” Kathy Fox, chairperson of the board said in a statement.

“Despite all the visual cues, including lights, signage and paint markings, professional crews were not stopping in time as required, thereby risking a collision with another aircraft on the other runway.”

Below are the recommendations made by the TSB:

  • Air traffic controllers need to issue more emphatic and clearer safety instructions to flight crews
  • Change procedures so crews do post-landing checks only after clearing all active runways
  • Change the unique layout of runways and taxiways at Pearson


“Safety is our top priority, and we will continue to make improvements that enable continued safe operations for the surrounding communities and the nearly 50 million people who use Toronto Pearson on an annual basis,” the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said in a statement.

“Since 2013, the GTAA has continued to address incidents at Toronto Pearson by working with the air carriers, particularly those regional U.S. carriers that experience a higher number of the incidents. In addition to specific enhancements to our runways and taxiways, new lighting systems, and mandatory LED backlit signage, we have also provided up-to-date safety information and educational outreach to these carriers about our operations.”

Watch the full Transportation Safety Board’s press conference below.

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