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Taxiway Tango Dilemma at KSEA

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  • Taxiway Tango Dilemma at KSEA

    So this forum has been pretty dead lately, so I thought I'd add something just as a bit of an informational piece for people to read and discuss.

    Last weekend I went to Seattle with a club I am a member of here at UND. One of the things we did was get a tour of the airport, given by a former UND grad who is now working for the airport authority there. One of the things we did was tour the ATC tower. We couldn't go up all as one group, so while 6 of us went up at a time, the rest of us stayed down and heard about some of the more unique operations about the airport. One such issue they've been having for quite some time I found quite interesting.

    Seattle is in the process of expanding to build a third runway. This is taking a particularly long time because first they have to bring in a bunch of dirt from somewhere else to fill in a bit of a valley that exists so they have a place to put the third runway. They do however have one part of the expansion built, and it hs been done for a while. This is a taxiway that paralells the two existing runways.

    http://204.108.4.16/d-tpp/0602/00582AD.PDF
    see airport diagram

    Here is the problem they are having. Because this taxiway is to the right side of runways 16 L and R, it is often mistaken as runway 16 R. I think they said as many as 5 airplanes have landed, or come close to landing on this runway. At most airports with paralell runways, the runway on the right is usually the farthest piece of pavement to the right, and the runway designated as left is all the way to the left side.

    Most of the incidents happened when it had just rained and they had what they call a sun break. Because the run was out, and the sun was reflecting off the runway, it is impossible to see any of the markings on the runway.

    So I figure, some of the things we could discuss are ways to avoid planes from landing on this taxiway. They already have a big lighted X on one end of the runway, but they've asked all the pilots who have landed on the taxiway about it and they all said "what X?"

    Have at it. If anybody has any questions, definately post and I'll see if I can remember/find amy more information about it.

  • #2
    There are a great many airports that have notes on the aerodrome, STAR and approach charts warning of taxiways being mistaken as runways, nearby aerodromes or even roads that when lit appear to be the runway!

    One classic that we operate to is Auckland, where there are two parallel runways that are never used together. 23R/05L is designated a taxiway 99% of the time however the runway markings are much clearer than the active 23L/05R. Fortunately the ILS only leads to the active runway however it has caught out more than one on a visual who have been ordered to go around. Auckland's ATIS always carries information about this, words to the effect of 'Runway 23L, dry, normal runway operation, refer Jeppesen white pages.......'. Seattle could carry a warning on the ATIS until the new runway is built.

    It seems to be that an adequate approach or departure briefing will normally prevent such an error, however as SQ and CI have both proved there is still margin for error.

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    • #3
      Yeah, that's one of the things that a lot of pilots say about the Taxiway in SEA is that because its a new piece of pavement, its a lot brigher than anything else, so they're kinda naturally drawn to it. They do have an announcement on the ATIS too mentioning not to mistake taxiway tango as runway 16R. As far as I know most airlines require that even on a visual approach you should have the ILS dialed in. However, the taxiway and runway are so close, that they pointed out that its only a slight deflection from where most pilots join the approach. So if its a visual, a lot of the pilots use it as a rough guide as to when to turn, then look up and dont reference the ILS again.

      The FAA and NTSB have been looking at different ways to solve the problem. one of them has been to put different colors of astroturf in alternating patterns for the first 2,000ft of the runway. they tired using bright colors, but found that it still blends in with the grass from high above the runway.

      My idea was that maybe they should paint the taxiway a different color. Either one that is so abnormal that when you see it you go "wtf is that?", or even just black so that it doesn't stick out as much. I read in an article that one thing they are considering doing is painting the words "DO NOT LAND TAXIWAY ONLY" on the runway, but I think there should be a lot more focus on keeping pilots away from it, rather than making them go around on short final.

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      • #4
        Doesnt SEA have some big yellow X's painted in front of the taxiway?
        You've got to try to find what's right before your eyes-Finger Eleven


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        • #5
          Not painted, its actually stood up on end. Here's a picture:

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          • #6
            Ah yes, thats what I saw. Thanks.

            Off Topic:
            Looks like some nice weather when you were there.
            You've got to try to find what's right before your eyes-Finger Eleven


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Alaska Air Rules
              Off Topic:
              Looks like some nice weather when you were there.
              oh man, we were so lucky in two ways. The weekend where we were in SEA, back here in GFK, with the wind chill it was down near -50. The weather in SEA was perfect, not a cloud in the sky and was up in the 40s during the day.

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              • #8
                Emu, is Tango an active taxiway or inactive pending the third runway being built? If it's inactive right now, they could probably cover it up with black tarp or some other covering that would be markedly different from the adjoining runway. It's a similar idea to it being painted a different color, except that painting would cost more.
                "The Director also sets the record straight on what would happen if oxygen masks were to drop from the ceiling: The passengers freak out with abandon, instead of continuing to chat amiably, as though lunch were being served, like they do on those in-flight safety videos."

                -- The LA Times, in a review of 'Flightplan'

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by indian airlines
                  Emu, is Tango an active taxiway or inactive pending the third runway being built? If it's inactive right now, they could probably cover it up with black tarp or some other covering that would be markedly different from the adjoining runway. It's a similar idea to it being painted a different color, except that painting would cost more.

                  Its active, but is seldom used...which is a good thing. The only people that use it are the few GA aircraft that land there and the one coorporate flight department that is based at SEA (Weyerheuser if I remember correctly).

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                  • #10
                    LAS has a problem like that also see link ----> http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...2,0.005407&t=k

                    They now have painted lines and TAXI ONLY.

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                    • #11
                      Wouldn't the combination of no centerline lights, runway edge lights, PAPI/VASI, be a dead give away that it wasn't 16R? If they were flying an ILS approach how would it be possible for them to land on T?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JordanD
                        Wouldn't the combination of no centerline lights, runway edge lights, PAPI/VASI, be a dead give away that it wasn't 16R? If they were flying an ILS approach how would it be possible for them to land on T?
                        Well, during the day when the sun is out, you can't usually see runway lights anyway, so they're turned off. All of these landings have happened during the day. I believe (at least I would hope) that all of these landings on Tango were done whiel doing visual approaches. Instead of having everybody shoot the ILS, when the weather is nice, to speed up traffic, controllers will just ask if you have the airport in sight and clear you to land. Saves a lot of time and enables them to handle more traffic. That's why whenever the weather sucks, there's always delays.

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                        • #13
                          I heard Palm Springs has a similar problem.
                          sigpic
                          http://www.jetphotos.net/showphotos.php?userid=170

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Crunk415balla
                            I heard Palm Springs has a similar problem.

                            Yes they do

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                            • #15
                              The best way to prevent this would be to keep the approach lighting on all the time.

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