Don’t cross it, stop it. Stop bars are now in use at five capital city airports around Australia


Don't cross it, stop it - Stop bars in use

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Airservices Australia are reminding all pilots and operators this Airport Safety Week to be aware that stop bar lights at runway intersections are now in operation at five capital city airports around Australia, and not to cross a lit stop bar at any time.

Stop bar lights are red when illuminated and are embedded across the taxiway at all runway holding points and intersections. Stop bars are controlled by Airservices Australia air traffic controllers during operational tower hours as an added safety measure to prevent an aircraft or authorised vehicle unintentionally entering or crossing an active runway.

Following the recent publishing of the final report into a runway incursion and subsequent rejected take-off event at Perth Airport on 28 April 2018, the ATSB’s investigation highlights the need for all pilots, no matter their experience or what aircraft they fly, to always observe for, and comply with the stop bar directions.

After landing, the pilot of a Boeing 737-800 crossed a lit stop bar and entered the active crossing runway where another 737 had commenced its take-off. Airservices Aerodrome Controller in Perth Tower alerted the departing aircraft to the runway incursion and instructed the 737 to stop. Both aircraft stopped safely and there was no collision.

ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said that in the past five years (1 September 2015 to 1 September 2020) 100 runway incursions involving stop bars at Melbourne, Sydney, Perth Brisbane and Canberra airports had been reported to the ATSB. Of these occurrences, 89 involved aircraft with the remaining 11 involved airside vehicles.

“Fortunately, none of these runway incursions have resulted in any accidents,” Chief Commissioner Hood said. “All of these occurrences have involved airliners, general aviation aircraft and authorised airport vehicles at different times of the day and night, and at different holding points, so there has been no identifiable commonality.”

Airservices Chief Air Traffic Controller Glen Lang reminds all pilots and authorised airside drivers that they must not cross a runway holding point until the stop bar has been extinguished and they have received verbal clearance from air traffic control.

“If you have a clearance to enter the runway but the stop bars are still lit, please query this with air traffic control before proceeding,” Mr Lang said. “I would encourage all operators and pilots to include checking the stop bar status as a requirement in their line up and crossing runway checks.”

You can find here the investigation report into the runway incursion involving Boeing 737, VH-XZM, and subsequent rejected take-off involving Boeing 737, VH-VZL, at Perth Airport

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