Notice Number: NOTC4471
A student pilot landed at a busy international airport and was cleared by ground control to taxi to the ramp. Instead, he taxied back onto the runway where another aircraft had been cleared to takeoff. The student pilot did not have a diagram of the airport, and claimed to have been distracted by other cockpit duties when he followed the “wrong yellow taxi line.”
Unfamiliar airports can seem like a jungle even to the most experienced pilot. The leading causes of runway incursions by low-time GA pilots are inadequate knowledge or experience with ATC procedures and inadequate experience operating at the airport layout.
All pilots, but especially Student Pilots and low-time pilots, should carefully review the meaning of ATC instructions. Don’t ever proceed to enter or cross a runway unless you are cleared for takeoff, instructed to line up and wait, or told to cross the runway. Controllers do not have to issue hold short instructions in every instance – so don’t assume that because you did not hear “hold short” that you can cross the hold line. And if you have any questions – stop your aircraft and ask.
As a Student Pilot, you should always have an airport diagram available for every airport you plan to visit during your flight. Another way student and inexperienced pilots can work to prevent causing a runway incursion is to brush up on your understanding of what the airport signs and markings mean before you fly. The FAA Runway Safety web site is a great source of information that should be used to refresh your understanding of the signs and markings you will see at the airports you fly in and out of.
One of the most common sayings in aviation is that your pilot certificate is a license to learn. If you are a student pilot – or a low-time pilot - consider identifying yourself as a “student pilot”, or your need for assistance to ATC. When you are taxiing your aircraft, keep looking around. There is always something you might miss, and remember, you are always a student while flying.
For more information:
Charlie Riordan, Pilot Analyst
Supporting Western Service Area
Runway Safety Group
ATO Office of Safety & Technical Training
Federal Aviation Administration