Sometimes the most difficult decisions we make are on the ground especially when taxiing on an airport with many intersecting runways. One airport I notice I must pay more attention to while taxiing is Louisville Airport (KSDF).
One day while leaving we were given instructions to taxi to Runway 35R via Delta cross Runway 29. We crossed 29 and began approaching the end of 35. As we approached the runway we noticed bright flashing yellow lights in the pavement and two alternating yellow lights on either side of the runway.
Getting closer we noticed a taxiway marking with two solid yellow lines and two dashed yellow lines furthest from us. Next to the taxiway is a sign with a red background and white lettering that says 35R-APPCH. I turned to my coworker and said I'm going to hold short. I said this as conformation with him and after we stopped I explained to him that even thought we briefed the taxi, in my mind I was expecting to see an ILS critical area sign which we see often.
I saw the approach hold line on the diagram before I began my taxi to the runway but in my mind I pictured an ILS critical area and was in the mode of continuing my taxi to the end as I normally would unless given instructions to hold short of the critical area. Since the yellow Wig-Wag lights were illuminated and the yellow pavement mounted lights were flashing, it brought to our attention the holding line so we held short. What would you have done?
A clearance to taxi to a runway allows us to taxi to and hold short of the runway we are given instructions to taxi towards. If the taxiway crosses a runway we must be given specific instructions to cross the runway, otherwise we must hold short of any crossing runway until given clearance to cross.
With the new rules Air Traffic Control (ATC) can clear us to cross only one runway at a time. Furthermore, ATC must issue crossing instructions even if a runway we are crossing is closed. We will be given crossing instructions on subsequent runways only after we have crossed the runway we were given clearance to cross.
If you were given taxi instructions without crossing instructions and have arrived at a runway hold line you must stop. Either the controller forgot to give you further instructions or you made a wrong turn during your taxi. Hold short of the runway and tell the controller you are holding short of the runway and include the specific taxiway. The taxi location sign is the black sign with yellow lettering.
We are at the general aviation ramp and are given the clearance from ground control to taxi to runway 35 Right via Echo Golf Foxtrot Delta. We begin our taxi and realize that Golf crosses 29 so we stop and tell the controller we are "short of runway 29 on Golf". The controller thanks you and issues you the clearance to "cross 29 hold short of 35R on Foxtrot".
After crossing runway 29 and as you approach 35R the controller issues the clearance "cross 35R, turn left on Delta, taxi to 35R via Delta." you then proceed to 35R and come to the hold line and the sign that says 35R APPCH. You should stop and wait further instructions because you were never given clearance to cross the hold line. Runway approach hold position signs are different from ILS critical areas in that you must hold short even without instructions. A good rule of thumb is never to cross the solid line side of the hold line unless you were instructed by ATC to cross.
You always need clearance to cross the solid line side of a runway safety area / obstacle free zone area. Always remember that you must get permission to cross the solid line side of the painted marking. If you are ever confused simply stop and ask.
There have been many rules that will prevent us from unintentionally crossing a runway or taxiway but the new rules only allow ATC to issue a clearance to cross one runway at a time and is a leap ahead towards reducing runway incursions. It also simplifies pilots’ decision when approaching a runway we are not given a specific clearance to cross. We must stop.
In the past we where allowed to cross all runways except the runway we where cleared to taxi to. This caused numerous runway incursions. The new rule simplifies the instructions and leads to less confusion and has already reduced runway incursions.
Personally, I like the simplified instructions since I no longer think about all the runways I am cleared to cross because we can only be cleared to cross one runway at a time. Furthermore, since the new rule was put into place it seems ATC is paying closer attention to our progress as we taxi because they must give us instructions at each runway crossing.
Remember don't cross any runway unless you where given specific instructions to cross. When in doubt stop and ask.