Flightline driving is a privilege, not a right

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert Buente
  • 374th Operations Support Squadron
Any time of the year is a good time to talk about safety, but a couple of recent incidents have highlighted flightline driving as an area of concern.

Since the flightline contains over two-thirds of Yokota Air Base's real estate, everyone should be aware of some basic rules. Also, with roads crossing both the north and south overruns, there is a great deal of our base population operating on the runway everyday.

We'll start with some basic rules for the overruns and then go on to the flightline.

Keep your speed up.

Have you ever wondered how the tower controllers know when to turn on the overrun stop lights? They have calculated how long it takes to drive around the overrun (at the speed limit) and account for that as an aircraft approaches or asks for takeoff clearance. For this reason it is very important that vehicles maintain the speed limit while operating on the overruns. Once on the overrun, do not stop for anything less than an emergency--the tower will be forced to shutdown runway operations if there is a vehicle in the overrun area.

The same thing happens when there are vehicles parked across the street from Darling Field--the east side of the street is in the clear zone and will force the tower to stop operations until the vehicle is moved.

Driving on the flightline is a privilege, not a right.

In order to be qualified to operate a vehicle on the flightline, you must receive a special license from Airfield Management. Your squadron flightline driving manager can give you the required training, but Airfield Management issues the license.

The detail that most often gets overlooked is this training must be reaccomplished annually and documented on your Air Force Form 483 (flightline driver's license).
The vehicle operator must have this license with him when operating on Yokota's flightline.

See and avoid.

While on the ramp, aircraft always have the right-of-way.

While most vehicles can move via the flightline road, some must have access to the parking ramp and West Parallel taxiway. Clear the area for operating aircraft and be sure to give way to aircraft.
Know where the entry and exit control points are for the restricted area. Nothing can ruin your day more quickly than "breaking red"!

Operating on the runway requires special training and equipment.

The Controlled Movement Area (CMA) is the runway and its immediate surroundings to include the overruns. The CMA is clearly marked on the airfield and has greater entry requirements than the flightline area.

Since high speed aircraft operate on the runway the theory of see and avoid no longer applies and vehicle operators must first obtain permission from the tower staff and then maintain radio contact while operating inside of the CMA. The runway should not be used as a shortcut from the East Ramp to the West Ramp.

These are just a couple of tips to help raise awareness of the "sanctity of the flightline."
At Airfield Management, our job is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the airfield and we take that charge very seriously.

You can do your part by obeying the overrun instructions and parking in the correct areas.
For those that are cleared to operate on the flightline, make sure your training is current and documented, give way to aircraft and maintain your situational awareness.

For more information about the Base Flightline Driving Program Manager, call Tech. Sgt. Eric Nixon, at 225-7548.

Thanks for keeping Yokota safe.