After more than a decade of development, review and preparation, the applicability date for the Global Reporting Format (GRF) for runway surface conditions (the ‘GRF’) is here. As of 4 November 2021, this important set of runway safety-related ICAO provisions should be in use by all Member States. As a reminder, the GRF is intended to mitigate the risk of runway excursions, which continues to be the most common form of aviation accidents, through the harmonized assessment and reporting of runway surface conditions. It comprises a number of elements:
- A harmonized matrix through which a trained observer allocates per runway third:
- A Runway Condition Code (RWYCC);
- A complementary contaminant descriptor, including type, depth and amount of coverage.
- A Runway Condition Report (RCR), incorporating the RWYCCs and descriptors, which is transmitted to the flight crew by SNOWTAM, ATIS and if necessary ATC radio broadcast;
- The flight crew’s correlation of the RCR with aircraft performance data, enabling them to calculate their takeoff or landing performance;
- A facility for the flight crew to provide observations of runway surface conditions, confirming the RWYCC or alerting to changing conditions.
During the run-up to the applicability date ICAO has worked closely with its Member States, regional offices, and industry bodies to ensure that the necessary capacity-building resources have been made available. Awareness has been built through some 35 seminars and webinars, computer and instructor-led training courses have been delivered, additional guidance and clarifications have been provided, and tools to help with implementation developed. Finally, a reporting and monitoring process is in place, through which States are being encouraged to report progress against agreed milestones. All of this is accessible on the ICAO GRF web page.
Early implementation by a number of pioneer States has confirmed that the GRF is fit for purpose, with only a few minor issues requiring clarification noted. Over the next few months, the operational experience will be gained during the Northern winter as well as the rainy or monsoon seasons in other parts of the globe. This operational experience will provide us with the opportunity to learn and if necessary provide additional clarifications through a post-implementation activity. It is also anticipated that the use of industry tools to augment human observations and improve transmission of the RCR will be integrated into the GRF concept.
The benefits of the GRF are not only related to runway safety but also efficiency through better planning of contaminant removal and environmental through the more effective use of de-icing and other treatments.
Current reporting indicated that implementation is still on-going in many States. However, it is anticipated that the roll-out will accelerate in the coming weeks and months, leading to the truly harmonized reporting of runway surface conditions in the interest of maintaining aviation safety, improving flight efficiency, and helping minimize aviation’s environmental impact.