OWL Technology to Prevent Runway Incursions

Runway incursions present a significant risk to aviation safety and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is focussed on mitigating the risk of runway incursions.

About Runway Incursions

A runway incursion is defined by the FAA as “any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.” Runway incursions can and do unfortunately lead to fatalities.

The below example of a runway incursion is taken from the SKYbary Aviation Safety website Accident and Serious Incident Reports: RI | SKYbrary Aviation Safety

On 18 November 2022, the crew of an Airbus A320neo about to become airborne as it departed Lima were unable to avoid a high-speed collision with an airport fire appliance which unexpectedly entered the runway. The impact wrecked the vehicle killing two of its three occupants and a resultant fuel-fed fire severely damaged the aircraft although with no fatalities amongst its 107 occupants. The vehicle was found to have entered the runway without clearance primarily as a consequence of inadequate briefing for an exercise to validate emergency access times from a newly re-located airport fire station.

Runway incursions have the potential to be fatal, as demonstrated in the example given, the risk factors and those involved make mitigating them a critical focus for The Flight Safety Foundation, an independent, international, and impartial non-profit that exists to champion the cause of aviation safety.

This can happen at any airport all over the world, the Federal Aviation Administration identified 19 serious runway incursions in 2023, the highest number recorded since 2016. In 2022 there were at least 1,633 runway incursions at U.S. airports.

Why do runway incursions happen?

Lack of systemwide collision
avoidance barriers

There is no universally implemented last line of defence against runway collisions – there is no single source of truth to visually inspect the tools, machinery, equipment and see what is where

Runway status

Many runway incursions can be averted with enhanced situational awareness technology such as OWL. Air traffic controllers need to be able to detect potential runway conflicts quickly and easily – our single source of truth portal will give a clear view via the app that the runway is clear.


The biggest cause of runway incursions is human error – vehicles moving on the airfield in a complex operational environment. Distraction, miscommunication and varying workloads and pressures can result in serious incidents when people or equipment enters the runway.

and Coordination

A breakdown in communication between air traffic personnel and pilots including miscommunication due to language barriers with vehicle drivers.

Challenges in
surface navigation

Knowing where aircraft is, how it is positioned and where area vehicles are is difficult when you do not have real-time data and information provided.

How OWL can mitigate the risk of runway incursions

OWL geofencing devices are used in high-risk environments where the difference between 10m and 10cm can mean the difference between potentially fatal incident and everyone getting home safely.

OWL devices can be attached to people, equipment, plant and vehicles meaning a real-time view of everything and everyone can be seen on our live portal view – an additional layer of information to help those who manage high-risk activities keep everyone safe.

The OWL devices have sub accuracy 100mm and have been developed to provide a secondary layer of protection within high-risk environments.

The Benefits of OWL for Aviation

  • High accuracy location platform that knows where your People, Equipment and plant are relative to each other and pre-defined zones.
  • Situational Awareness information sent direct to Customer teams
  • Automated alerting and escalation workflows with Reporting for Compliance auditing
  • Real time hazard data to the person at risk
  • Manage People / Plant Interface risks
  • Customise projects to deal with differences in staff, works, skills, location

To discover how OWL could enhance safety for your organisation, please complete the form here

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