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Terminal Environment Safety: Garmin SurfaceWatch

It seems to be a reoccurring theme lately with a slew of near misses at airports across the country—airplanes landing, or nearly landing, on the wrong runway or even the wrong airport altogether. With several high-profile situations recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has put an emphasis on safety in the terminal environment, calling for enhanced technology and procedures to help improve safety during the critical taxi, takeoff and landing phases of flight. In part one of this series, we covered our SafeTaxi technology, a feature created to aid in navigating an airport before takeoff or upon landing. Next, we’ll take a look at another Garmin terminal safety solution—SurfaceWatch—that can help pilots ensure they’re landing not only at the correct airport, but on the correct runway too, providing an even greater level of situational awareness during takeoff and landing.

Airport and Runway Identification, Runway Limitations

Identifying a specific airport or runway isn’t always easy. Sure, on a sunny afternoon when the sky is clear, and visibility is great they can often be seen from miles away. But factor in reduced visibility and a cloudy sky during a nighttime flight over a metro area. That same airport may not be quite as easy to pinpoint. Plus, some metro areas may even have multiple airports in line with a given approach, and some airports may have nearly identical parallel runways further complicating the issue. And, not all runways are created equal. Larger aircraft will, of course, require longer, stronger runways. SurfaceWatch can not only help pilots ensure that they are aligned on the appropriate runway, it can also help identify that a specific runway is suitable for an aircraft’s use too.

Primary Flight Display of the G1000 NXi displaying SurfaceWatch.

What is Garmin SurfaceWatch?

SurfaceWatch is a runway monitoring technology that provides indications and alerts designed to help prevent pilots from taking off or landing on the wrong runway, a runway that is too short, or a taxiway. During preflight, pilots can enter the takeoff/landing distance performance data, prompting a brief “runway too short” aural annunciation and a visual message on the primary flight display (PFD) if the aircraft is aligned to take off or land on a runway that is too short. SurfaceWatch will also display the remaining runway distance information on the PFD during the takeoff roll and landing rollout. On approach, the system will provide a “check runway” annunciation if the aircraft is aligned with the wrong runway.

Multi Function Display of the G1000 NXi displaying SurfaceWatch.

Which Garmin products feature SurfaceWatch?

Garmin SurfaceWatch features are available as an option on most of our integrated flight decks, including the G1000 NXi, G2000, G3000, G5000 and G5000H.

Be sure to check out part one of this series highlighting SafeTaxi and stay tuned for the next chapter featuring visual approach guidance. To learn more about Garmin SurfaceWatch and our suite of terminal safety solutions, visit garmin.com/aviation.

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