Pilot's tip of the week

Self-Clearance at Non-Towered Airports

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Subscriber question:

"True confession: Last week I accidentally taxied across a runway while another airplane was landing. There was no danger, but the other pilot was mad and rightly so. How do I ensure that never happens again." — Gene A.

Richard:

“Runway incursions are a problem at both towered and non-towered airports. As an added layer of safety, I always get clearance before taxi, takeoff, or landing. At towered airports, the clearance is provided by tower and ground controllers, after they’ve ensured the taxiways, runways, the pattern or final approach are safe from obstructions or conflicting aircraft.

At non-towered airports, I provide this clearance myself, but I try to think like a controller. After a mental note that I’m ready to taxi, takeoff, or land, I ask, would a controller have the necessary safeguards to clear me for the action I’m about to take? This helps me think to confirm my taxi routing, and look specifically for conflicting traffic. One way or another I need a ‘clearance’ to taxi, take off or land—either by a real controller or the virtual controller in my head.”

If an aircraft taxied across the runway where you were landing such that there was no threat, but they shouldn't have been there, how would you handle it?

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