Assessment and reporting of runway surface conditions

Guest Author by Guest Author | Nov 30, 2018

Written by Alexis Clinet, Airport operations officer, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Runway safety related accidents, notably runway excursions, remain aviation’s number one safety risk category. Among the top contributing factors are poor braking action due to contaminated runways combined with shortfalls in the accuracy and timeliness of runway surface conditions. As a consequence, ICAO has called for the widespread deployment of its new methodology for assessing and reporting runway surface conditions.

This new methodology, commonly known as the Global Reporting Format (GRF), will become applicable in 5 November 2020. The GRF targets the standardized reporting of runway surface conditions on wet and contaminated runways, the impact of which is then directly correlated with an aircraft’s performance, enabling a better flight crew prediction of take-off and landing performance as well as an improved situation awareness.

The GRF is intended to cover conditions found in all climates and it provides a means for aerodrome operators to rapidly and correctly assess runway surface conditions, whether they are exposed to wet runway conditions, snow, slush, ice or frost. It is designed to tackle rapidly changing weather conditions such as those experienced during winter or in tropical climates, when timely decisions may be required. It comprises an evaluation of a runway through human observation and a consequent assignment of a Runway Condition Code (RWYCC). This code is complemented by a description of the surface contaminant based upon its type, depth and coverage for each third of the runway. This evaluation should of course be performed by trained runway assessors.

The outcome of the evaluation and associated RWYCC are then used to complete a standard report called the Runway Condition Report (RCR) which is forwarded to air traffic services and the aeronautical information services for dissemination.

Another important element of the GRF is a process that enables a pilot to provide their own observations confirming the RWYCC, providing an alert of deteriorating (or improving) conditions based upon their own experience of actual braking action or lateral control. A corresponding mechanism for the airport operator to downgrade (or upgrade) the RWYCC on the basis such reports therefore incorporated into the GRF.

The importance of training to ensure a global and harmonized implementation of this new methodology should not be underestimated. To help address this need a joint ICAO/ACI symposium will be hosted in Montreal 26 to 28 March 2019, to register visit the website. The principal objectives of this event will be to ensure international awareness and knowledge of the GRF, including the training required and resources available. This symposium will be followed-up by regional seminars focussing on local stakeholders and regional particularities such as weather conditions, airport characteristics and stakeholder expectations. These regional seminars will take place March 2019 and November 2020.


The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

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