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A Quick Reference to Airfield Standards [pdf] (faa.gov)
38 points by app4soft 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments

Given this remarkable amount of standardisation (also internationally, see ICAO annex 14 [1]), and the clear distinction between runways (white markings, white and green/red lights) and taxiways (yellow markings, blue lights), it is even weirder that pilots keep landing on (or trying to land on) taxiways [2], including even Han Solo [3].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standards_And_Recommended_Prac...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Canada_Flight_759

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2017/mar/25/harrison-...

as unequivocal as it seems, certain air conditions can make it hard to pick out the runway, particularly if the runway is concrete and the rest of the ramp area is in blacktop. Ford made a big mistake at a major airport, but having landed at a lot of smaller airports I can totally see how it could be easy to land on a taxiway by mistake if you haven't been into a place before. That said, I always like to fly over a spot before I land at it if I haven't been there before, which almost always eliminates any ambiguity, but I can see how the mistake happens.

If I remember the details right, there were two parallel runways (call them 17L and 17R) and a taxiway to the right, running parallel to 17R. It was night time, and 17L was closed for construction/repair (lights off). He was cleared to land on 17R, saw two lit lines, and landed on it.

It's not that hard to imagine how that could happen to someone. We heard about it because it was Harrison Ford, but I'd wager it happens more often than we'd like to think about...

The scenario you describe was what happened with the Air Canada flight: 28L was closed and lights off, so the Air Canada flight that was cleared to land on 28R nearly landed on taxiway C, where 4 airplanes were sitting waiting to take off (and apparently came within less than 5 meters (15 feet) of hitting one of them).

This btw also points to problems with the NOTAM system.

Anecdata adding little to the conversation: I almost bought a 40 acre farm in a little burg next to Redmond, WA that had a named, FAA-designated airstrip I planned to rename after my wife. If I understand correctly, the FAA designation means it needs to be accessible to any pilots. Neighbors said small planes were known to land in the middle of the night. My wife would not have appreciated this.

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