The Santa Maria Airport General Manager is planning to implement, what local pilots and Air Traffic Control [ATC] officials say, is a new runway taxiway re-designation plan which will be confusing to all pilots. This confusion can lead to unsafe and possibly deadly conditions at the airport.
Santa Maria Airport Air Traffic Control manager, James Jones states the changes “would be very confusing to air traffic controllers, local and transient pilots”. James goes on to say that” The confusion that will result from these proposed changes would only increase runway incursions at the Santa Maria Public Airport”.
A runway incursion is when an aircraft enters onto an active runway from a taxiway accidentally. This can lead to a situation where the taxing aircraft comes in contact with an aircraft landing or taking off, which can prove to be deadly.
Runway incursion incidents have been the number one safety issue highlighted by the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] over the past few years. Both the FAA and pilots have been working hard lately to reduce incursions through awareness and education.
Implementing a confusing taxiway plan, such as the one about to be installed at the Santa Maria Airport, is completely counter productive and does not make sense.
Hundreds of people, passengers and aircraft fly in and out of Santa Maria Airport each day via private aircraft, business aircraft, CalStar Air Ambulance, Allegiant and United Express airlines. Creating a confusing and potentially dangerous situation for all these folks is beyond belief.
FAA Advisory Circular 150/5340-18F is an official document, which provides “Standards for Airport Sign Design”. This document provides specific guidance for airport taxiway layouts and design. One of the first document statements is “Keep it simple and logical”. Per Jones, this new plan is contradictory to this directive.
Collectively, our Santa Maria Air Traffic Control Tower personnel have over 142 years experience in providing safe air traffic control. They say NOT to implement this confusing taxiway re-designation plan. With their warning of the dangers of the new plan, our ATC personnel have provided a “simple and logical” taxiway re-designation plan to the airport general manager, which has been ignored. It would be prudent for those planning such major changes to the airport, would include people who actually use the airport, such as pilots and Air Traffic Controllers.
Local pilots and our Air Traffic Control personnel will be stating their objections to this new confusing taxiway plan to the Santa Maria Board of Directors this coming Thursday evening, January 24th, at 7 PM, in the airport administration building. The Airport Board states ‘this is your airport” and encourages people to come to these public meetings.
The citizens that fly in and out of Santa Maria Airport have a right to know the potentially deadly hazardous situation, which is about to become reality at the airport.
Even though the FAA has signed off on this plan that does not make the pending situation any less confusing and potentially dangerous for all.
The AC5340-18F opening statement with taxiway designation design states “keep it simple and logical”.
This situation is completely contradictory to that statement. The FAA is not always correct. I truly believe this is a case in point.
Mitch Latting – Vice President, Region 3
California Pilots Association www.calpilots.org