Awareness System Alerts Pilots To Improper Runway
We've already heard a lot of
speculation and "what-if's" regarding last month's crash of Comair
Flight 5191 in Lexington, KY. And we'll likely hear a lot more in
the months to come.
But perhaps the most ironic "what if" has to do with a device
made by Honeywell... one that critics say might have kept 5191 from
rolling down Runway 26 instead of Runway 22 at Blue Grass
It's called the Runway Awareness & Advisory System (RAAS).
In a clear voice, it tells flight crews where they are on the
airport -- reducing the chance of a runway incursion, or a trip
down the wrong path.
The advisories are "like having a helper in the cockpit to tap
you on the shoulder and say, 'Does this make sense to you?' " said
Markus Johnson, director of aerospace flight operations at
Honeywell, to the Chicago Tribune. "If everything doesn't add up in
your head, you then stop the plane and review your flight plan and
Based on GPS technology, the system runs about $18,000 a copy.
That's not cheap... but it is on the low end of the price spectrum
for avionics enhancements to business and commercial aircraft.
In the three years the Honeywell
system has been on the market, only five airlines have installed
the runway awareness system on their aircraft -- Alaska Airlines,
FedEx, Air France, Lufthansa and Malaysia Airlines. United Airlines
is studying whether to become the sixth carrier to join that
"We are pleased by what we have seen so far," said United
spokesman Brandon Borrman.
As with all speculation, it's tough to say whether such a 'tap
on the shoulder' would have ultimately made a difference in the
outcome of Comair Flight 5191... but maybe, it would have been just
enough to break the chain of circumstances that led to the loss of
49 out of 50 people onboard the CRJ-100.