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Collision Avoidance

Under FAR Part 91 there are a few enhanced safety of flight items that have been established, such as right-of-way rules, minimum safe altitudes and VFR cruising altitudes. As a safe pilot, it is always a good idea to continuously scan for other traffic. A good way to scan the area for other air traffic is to scan at 10⁰ intervals and hold each spot of about 1 second.

Aircraft have blind spots, if flying a high wing aircraft should raise the wing to check for traffic prior to making a turn. Same goes for low winged aircraft, lower the wing in the intended direction of the turn.

Controlled Flight into Terrain

The FAA defines Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) as the unintentional collision into terrain, such as mountains, ground, water, or even an obstacle, while the aircraft in under positive control.

Controlled flight into terrain accounts for 17 percent of all general aviation (GA) accidents occurred during instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). CFIT covers mainly IFR pilots, visual flight rules (VFR) pilots are affected by CFIT, flying in below minimum visibility, and into IMC conditions.

Pilot Deviation

A deviation is when the action of a pilot that result in a violation of a FAR. If you have a pilot deviation on your record it follows you forever. When ATC gives a pilot a phone number to call, is receiving a pilot deviation.

Runway Incursion

So, what is a runway incursion? The FAA states It is “any occurrence in the airport runway environment involving an aircraft, vehicle, person, or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of required separation with an aircraft taking off, intending to take off, landing, or intending to land.” This also covers taxiways as well, with the exception of aircraft taking off or landing. Some examples of runway or taxiway incursions are:

  • Crossing a runway hold marking without clearance from ATC or taking off and or landing without clearance.

  • Taxiing on to a runway, in front of a landing aircraft.

How to avoid runway and taxiway incursions?

  • At towered airports it is mandatory to read back all runway crossing and or “hold short” instructions.

  • Write down complex taxi instructions, at unfamiliar airports.

  • Always carry and refer to an airport diagram, while taxiing.

  • Always check for traffic before crossing runways and taxiways.

Runway Confusion:

Runway confusion is a part of runway incursions, it is the unintentional taking off or landing on the wrong runway or even a taxiway. This can happen at airports that are very complex, have close runway thresholds, or even the use of a runway as a taxiway.

Progressive Taxi:

Per FAR Part 91.123, pilots are required to follow all ATC instructions and clearances. Progressive taxi is when ATC follows you visually during taxi, and ATC provides a step-by-step instruction. These can be requested at unfamiliar controlled airports.

There is nothing wrong with telling a controller immediately, you are “UNABLE”, to safely comply with ATC instructions.


Practice good scanning, especially while on approach to the traffic pattern at an airport. Also, scan for traffic prior to turning final, both on the runway, and coming the opposite direction. Also, scan the runway and taxiways at both ends, for aircraft, and note there movement. If you see an aircraft moving onto the runway, while you are on final causing a runway incursion, immediately and safely “Go Around!”


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