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5 Answers

When we say “crossing runway downfield”, what is the meaning of downfield?

Asked by: 3959 views Airspace

Does it mean the area ahead of the airplane's heading direction? Is it the area that the airplane is heading toward? your kind answer will be highly appreciated.

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5 Answers



  1. Ben on Sep 21, 2010

    There is no entry for this in the Pilot/Controller Glossary, but it is taken to mean the following – or that most pilots would interpret the comment as follows:
    “Downfield” – meaning the direction in which you would commence a takeoff roll or the opposite end to which you find yourself. If you were to take the runway and accelerate, you would end up potentially hitting that other aircraft…hence the warning.
    Let’s say you were EXACTLY in the middle of a runway, I would take “downfield” to always mean the direction of takeoff as this is where the hazard lies. Nobody is going to hit an airplane crossing behind them and indeed ground controllers may have airplanes crossing active runways behind an aircraft about to takeoff – precisely because there is no danger of collision.
     

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  2. Ben on Sep 21, 2010

    When I was back at Daytona Beach, FL they would tell you to ‘position and hold’ and then caution you ‘numerous aircraft crossing downfield’ – well obviously those aircraft aren’t behind you, because they’d be doing a bit of off-roading – so logically they must be in front of you. All the controller is doing is giving you more situational awareness – maybe you’re sat in the position and getting a bit impatient and asking yourself “why can’t I just takeoff? What are we waiting for?” – remember not all runways are perfectly flat, some curve upwards so much you may not be able to see smaller aircraft crossing the field further on. If a pilot were to suddenly decide to takeoff on their own (bad idea!!) they would run the risk of hitting one of those airplanes. However – since the nice controller man/woman has given you a bit more information, you know what is happening – you see the big picture – and patiently wait for your takeoff clearance.

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  3. Brian on Sep 23, 2010

    I like Webster’s definition personally:

    Definition of DOWNFIELD

    : in or into the part of the field toward which the offensive team is headed

    However, I don’t agree with using, pilots or controllers, non-standard phraseology to give position information. This question is precisely the reason why.

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  4. Anais on Sep 24, 2010

    Thank you, Brian, Ben. Actually this question is raised by a Chinese pilot and he is confused by “downfield” cuz it’s not available in any of the glossaries. Also I heard that in the famous audio between the JFK ATC and CA 981 pilot, the ATC didn’t speak with stardardized terminologies, which is part of the reason why the communication had been so difficult. Have you ever heard the audio? More comments from you will be highly appreciated.

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  5. Brian on Sep 24, 2010

    “Have you ever heard the audio?”

    I cannot say that I have Anais. However, one of the great shifts in communication from an aspect of standardized versus non-standardized occurred following Tenerife. A famous accident involving two 747’s colliding. I believe it is still the largest fatal accident in history.

    Anyways, there was conflict of languages, phraseology, crew management, and all compounded with near 0/0 visibility. In layman terms, tower was clearing airliners for departure without actually being able to see the runway.

    All I really have left on this subject is to recommend studying. Study (each of the following is a link) 7110.65 Controller Handbook, Pilot Controller Glossary, and Aeronautical Information Manual Chapter 4. Finally, there are plenty of books. Personally, I enjoyed “Say Again Please” because it was short, simple, and explanative.

    Phew, lot’s of reading. Well good luck with it and keep/teach to standard phraseology so we can all be safe. 🙂

    ~Brian

    “Disciplined communications was one of the easiest to recognize marks of a truly professional airman.” ~Tony Kern

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