See and Avoid: Applies to Runway Ops, too

The following report, submitted to ASRS by a B-727 Captain discusses an incident in which established procedures still were not enough to avert a near-collision on the runway.

Due to a mechanical problem, our flight [air carrier X] departed after the Tower closed for the night. We complied with our company?s “non-Tower” procedures found on our commercial chart page. The First Officer called Center prior to taxi for our clearance using the VHF #2 radio. The First Officer then made a “taxiing to Runway 09” call on the CTAF using the VHF #1 radio.

Upon reaching the end of Runway 09, the First officer called “taking the active” on CTAF. As we lined up, we heard air carrier Y announce his taxiing on the CTAF. The First Officer then called “beginning takeoff roll” on CTAF and Center?s frequency. I transferred aircraft control to the First Officer and we began rolling between 80-100 knots. We heard air carrier Y announce his intentions for an intersection takeoff (Taxiway A) on Runway 27. The First Officer and I both had the air carrier Y in sight, and as we neared V1 (rotate speed) we saw that he was not going to stop prior to entering the runway. The First Officer expedited rotation and we went over air carrier Y by approximately 300 feet as he entered the runway. During this time, I tried contacting air carrier Y on CTAF, but he did not respond.

Soon after clearing him, we heard him query Center if they just had someone take off. Center told him of our departure, and air carrier Y wanted to know why we hadn?t made any calls on the CTAF. We told Center that we had in fact made calls that went unanswered by air carrier Y. I also told Center we had heard air carrier Y, but he evidently hadn?t heard us. Air Carrier Y said something about the volume on his radios, and that “he guesses he?s just used to having [airport] to himself at that time of night”…

One thing, however, was not done. I can understand missing some radio calls, but I cannot understand how someone taxies onto a runway without visually clearing it ? especially when the Tower is closed.

Visit the FAA Runway Safety Program.