landing clearance with a vehicle on the runway

SoCal

Rookie
Nov 6, 2008
42
0
6
San Diego
i was once told by a senior controller that a landing clearance could not be issued when a vehicle is on the runway for an inspection. It was explained that the 7110.65 does not imply the use of anticipated separation with vehicles.... I did not look into this as i usually do and just practiced this 'rule' by telling aircraft to continue until the vehicle is clear. This has been practiced by most of my coworkers. Tonight i was working as CIC with a freshly rated controller on LC. The subject came up and she said that we are now allowed to give the landing clearance, and that a senior controller on her side of the shift told her so. The senior controller who had told me not to is freshly retired.

I have not seen any recent changes on this subject.

I cannot find any clear wording in the 7110.65. So I am thinking this another one of the rules that is being interpreted differently.

I would appreciate some opinions on the matter.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
991
7
18
It's not specifically addressed in the .65. This boils down to technique.

Just remember that when issuing a landing clearance while vehicles are on the runway, you have a situation that needs to be watched closely. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but some controllers feel it's an unacceptable risk.

Personally, I've issued the clearance plenty of times and never had a problem. But you have to admit, if there were to be an incident, you know exactly what questions the Media would be asking.
 

radicrog

Trusted Member
Feb 5, 2009
411
0
16
Vegas
I agree, it's not specifically addressed. My technique is I'll issue the landing the clearance if there's vehicle crossing, but if a vehicle is on the runway, I'll say the continue, vehicle on runway, then issue the landing clearance when the vehicle is off.
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
1,230
3
38
Nashville TN
Crossing a runway is one thing, but a vehicle doing a runway inspection is a entire different story. I for one DO NOT issue a landing clearance when a vehicle is doing a runway check/inspection I've seen airport vehicles turn around and stop to pick up debris.
 

Davo

Trusted Contributor
Mar 14, 2009
699
3
18
If the aircraft and vehicle happen to lose their radios then you would have a problem.
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
1,230
3
38
Nashville TN
Actually over 90% of the time vehicles and pilots DO NOT see the light gun signals because they are looking at the runway not the tower. Of course I'm working someplace where speaking english is an afterthought so when you tell them to continue you hear back " Tower, OK I Land Now".
 

jamisjockey

Banned
Jan 10, 2010
2,834
30
48
3-1-5. VEHICLES/EQUIPMENT/PERSONNEL ON RUNWAYS
a. Ensure that the runway to be used is free of all known ground vehicles, equipment, and personnel before a departing aircraft starts takeoff or a landing aircraft crosses the runway threshold.


Legal, yes.

Bad technique, yes.

Cross a runway in front of someone who's got a landing clearance with adequate spacing, sure. Occupied runway....I'd withhold landing clearance.
The words "I forgot" are like acid coming off your tounge when you're standing in front of the boss explaining why you lost sep.​
 

atcguruaf

Rico Suave
Jan 4, 2009
1,377
0
36
Right here
Luckily we have ASDE-X. On my mids, I always show the runways as closed on the ASDE, in addition to any other memory aids because I suffer from short term memory loss (Nemo reference). At least with showing the runway closed, I give myself one more chance to make sure that the runway has no vehicles, equipment or personnel, as opposed to just using a placard saying "vehicle on runway".

With stuff like that, you can't be too safe. Last thing you want to hear is "tower, Ops 1 is off the runway in the dirt due to that aircraft that just landed" or worse! Although safety is paramount in all instances, vehicles and the like are difficult to see sometimes and even easier to forget. At least if it's another aircraft, the pilot has a chance to observe as well. But looking for personnel is like trying to find a dog on the runway - it's hard sometimes.

I with hold the landing clearance if there is something on the runway. I have had aircraft land before WITHOUT a landing clearance, but by stating "SWA100, RWYXX, continue, vehicle on runway" or "...runway inspection in progress", and with holding the landing clearance, if a bolt of lightning hits, you lose your radios, pilot loses his/hers, and the vehicle loses their's, or any combination of those things happening, the last thing the pilot heard was "vehicle on runway" and now it gives him/her a fighting chance at preventing a collision. Not to mention if the pilot lands without a clearance, the responsibility rests with the pilot now, not you, so you're in the clear.

And yes, I have lost all of my radios before and the generator wasn't working. So it can and does happen. Luckily where I'm at now, we have like 5 backup options.

Worst thing that happens is you forget to issue the landing clearance and the pilot goes around. Easier to explain your being too safe and forgetfulness than having a wife and kids ask why her husband/father is dead because you wanted to issue that clearance... food for thought. Nevermind the mental anguish that would ensue. Then you'd be asking "why didn't I just do what they were saying on stuckmic?" for the rest of your life.

I know you were looking for the legal answer on this. Is it wrong to issue the clearance - no. Is it wrong to with hold the landing clearance - no. Which is safer? You pick.
 

ballakc

Junior Member
Dec 2, 2008
131
0
16


Legal, yes.

Bad technique, yes.

Cross a runway in front of someone who's got a landing clearance with adequate spacing, sure. Occupied runway....I'd withhold landing clearance.
The words "I forgot" are like acid coming off your tounge when you're standing in front of the boss explaining why you lost sep.

Agree 100%! It shouldn't be legal, but it is. It is ridiculously bad technique! Besides "N12345 Cleared-to-Land, Vehicle on Runway" just doesn't sound right, and most pilots would question that transmission.
 

jamisjockey

Banned
Jan 10, 2010
2,834
30
48
Agree 100%! It shouldn't be legal, but it is. It is ridiculously bad technique! Besides "N12345 Cleared-to-Land, Vehicle on Runway" just doesn't sound right, and most pilots would question that transmission.
If, and it's a big if, I was to use it, I'd inform the pilot the vehicle will be off the runway shortly. And probably ask him to report short final or something as a memory aid.
 

corn4ahead

Senior Member
Oct 3, 2012
205
1
18
Sorry to revive an old thread... If you cross a vehicle on a runway where you have cleared an aircraft to land, do you have to tell the aircraft about the vehicle crossing? Say you have a c172 on a 10 mile final and you want to cross the vehicle, is it required to tell the c172 about the runway crossing even though it will never be a factor?

Thanks.
 

ajmezz

Epic Member
Apr 8, 2010
1,811
28
48
I can't see why telling a c172 10 mile final about a vehicle crossing would ever be pertinent, unless it just makes you feel better inside and possibly want the extra transmissions. He'll never see that vehicle to make a difference. If the 172 was like 5 mile final, then sure it wouldn't hurt to make the call.
 

jmanley20

Trusted Member
Apr 12, 2015
386
1
18
In the Slot
What i dont get is if you can say "SWA245, Dulles Tower, Runway 19L, cleared to land, traffic departing prior to your arrival... Why cant you just use the same format with runway inspections? "UAL896, Dulles Tower, Runway 19C, cleared to land, runway inspection in progress, vehicle will exit runway prior to your arrival"...? Unless you want to make sure in case the vehicle stops to pick up debris... But wouldnt the pilots just use SOP to go around because runway is in use and unsafe to land?
 

ajmezz

Epic Member
Apr 8, 2010
1,811
28
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What if they don't see the vehicle and you're distracted by something else? They can't really use sop to go around on something they don't see.. Your best bet is to just tell an aircraft to continue if there is a vehicle doing a rwy inspection and once you can see that the vehicle is clear, then issue a clearance.

Disclaimer: My experience is with all GA traffic in a class D vfr tower so with airlines it could be different.
 
Last edited:

KSDL

Rookie
Mar 23, 2015
58
4
8
I never tell aircraft there is a crossing in progress unless they are holding in position. As far as I am concerned, it's my responsibility to visually check and ensure that the runway is clear when an aircraft is approaching the threshold. What good is it to tell an aircraft about something that won't affect them in the slightest.