Airport 101 — Just like your home or business, buildings and surfaces like ramps and taxiways around an airport deteriorate with time and must be replaced. Construction sites around airports can be
very dangerous places to operate though because truck drivers don’t always understand the dangers their operations create. Pilots often underestimate the danger as well, or at least the confusion that can occur when portions of an airport are shut down.
To make things a bit easier on everyone, the airport manager’s office regularly sends out messages pilots are expected to check to alert them to these potential hazards. We call them a NOtice To AirMan, or NOTAMs for short (and before anyone asks, NOTAMs apply equally to lady pilots and I have no idea why they’re not gender sensitive).
Here’s an Addison NOTAM from a few weeks ago … A 08/009 TWY A CLSD BTN TWY U AND TWY V AUG 19, 2013, B 08/010 TWY H CLSD. In English this means watch out for taxiway construction work along “Alpha” our north-south taxiway near Million Air. No big deal, unless perhaps you’ve never been to Addison before and you want to go to Million Air.
Aviation is so full of acronyms and gobbletty-gook, we assume there’s no better way.
In this case, there is a better — read simpler — way to tell pilots about airport construction work or hazards and it looks like the FAA developed it. The agency’s answer … pictures.
While some readers might be a tad skeptical the U.S. government figured out how to simplify anything, the new NOTAM system coming online this year really is taking the guess work out of navigating around an airport, especially at night. The reason for the changes is simple too, the never-ending industry pressure to stem the tide of runway incursions. In layman’s terms, a runway incursion is defined as a situation in which a person, vehicle or an aircraft end up too close to airplanes landing or taking off. They often come too close when construction detours send pilots onto unfamiliar or confusing routes.
So here’s the same NOTAM from above in the new picture format. Same information, but it’s pretty tough to get this one wrong.
And here’s another, this one from nearby Love Field.
In airplainese it says, (A A/FD RWY 18/36 CLSD EXC FOR TAXIING AIRCRAFT, B 06/031 TWYA CLSD FROM TWY D TOAER RWY 13L JUN 13, 2013
SEP 13, 2013, C 06/033 TWY D CLSD BTN RWY 13L/31R AND TWY A JUN 13, 2013 SEP 13, 2013, D 06/034 TWYASE 150 CLSD ATAER RWY 31R JUN 13, 2013 SEP 13, 2013, F
06/030 TWY ABTNAER 31RAND TWY A1 CLSD JUN 13, 2013 SEP 13, 2013, G 08/020 TWYA CLSD BTN TWY D AND 550 FTSE TWY D AUG 14, 2013 NOV 13, 2013, I 05/080
TWY D1 CLSD MAY 28, 2013 MAR 24, 2014, J 05/081 TWY D BTN TWY PAND TWY C CLSD MAY 28, 2013 MAR 24, 2014.
The much easier to understand picture version of the airport’s north side looks like this one on the right. With these, everyone on the airport can now breathe a little easier because they better understand what everyone else is up to. Now that everyone’s interest is at its peak, here’s a short list of a few more designed to keep airport detectives busy.