General Aviation Airport Runway Incursions: A Qualitative Approach to Examining Reasons for, Barriers to Addressing, and Lessons Learned from Airport Managers' First-Hand Experiences
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The purpose of the study was manifold: (a) to understand the reasons for runway incursions (RIs) at general aviation (GA) airports, (b) to describe the barriers to addressing runway incursions at GA airports, and (c) to describe the lessons learned from addressing runway incursions at GA airports. This study was based primarily on a phenomenological research design, which led to a set of inductively derived conjectures. The study’s sample consisted of 10 GA airports that had at least 10 times the number of GA operations than the number of air carrier (commercial) operations as reported in the Air Traffic Activity Data System (ATADS) across five Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regions (Alaskan, Southwest, Northwest Mountain, Southern, and Western Pacific). Using the FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) database, it was reported that these 10 GA airports experienced the highest frequency of pilot deviations (PDs), and vehicle/pedestrian deviations (V/PDs) runway incursions events that had occurred over the last 7.5 years (January 1, 2010 through June 30, 2017). Using the qualitative data analysis software tool, Nvivo©, and Spradley’s (1979) approach, the data were organized into three domains, which corresponded to the three research questions (RQs). The results of data analysis led to the development of common themes and patterns (the phenomenological design component), and these common themes and patterns then served as the basis for formulating corresponding conjectures (the first stage of grounded theory design). The findings suggest that there are numerous reasons that contribute to RIs at GA airports such as compromised situation awareness (SA) and communication, airfield access, resource related issues, and attention to reporting RIs. The barriers faced included airfield infrastructure, and pilot related issues; and the lessons learned were that collaborative communication, and modified physical environments can mitigate the occurrences of RIs. The findings are beneficial to airport managers in that it provided a succinct synthesis of RI mitigation information, for some of which can be implemented in the interim, while providing recommendations for what can be done long term to improve aviation safety.