D L X wrote:
Couple non-pilot questions:
1) Is it normal to turn off the runway lights of a closed runway?
To answer this question, yes.
While the X is recommended at night, it is not required if runway lights are shut off during a night closure. If there is a need to leave the lights on, then a lighted X is required. Lighted Xs are also required during daytime closures. This is detailed in the FAA Advisory Circular 150/5370-2F.
As a non-pilot, I am still dumbfounded at how something so simple can be treated as so complicated by the industry. Why on Earth would the industry want to complicate things by allowing "X"es to be shut on or off in various conditions? It seems obvious to me that having an airport have many different "looks," especially at night, depending upon which lights are on or off at the time adds complexity and INVITES landing on the wrong runway or taxiway!
The airport runway/taxiway lighting schema should appear EXACTLY THE SAME to each approaching pilot, EVERY SINGLE TIME, identifying each and every runway and taxiway, until it is so thoroughly drummed into the pilot's head by repetition that he/she knows exactly the number and layout of runways and taxiways, even with no lights at all. This business of having two runways, 28R and 28L, plus a parallel taxiway, then shutting off the lights on one of them and shutting off the X at night, forcing pilots to decide whether he's looking at 28L and 28R, or 28R and a taxiway, seems an insane and unnecessary shell game that repeatedly endangers lives.
I wonder if force of habit has created a blindness at the FAA over such a serious issue.
I mean... why don't we just have the computers randomly swap the positions of the throttles in the cockpit during each approach and have some lights flash in Morse code to tell the pilots which throttle controls which engine. Sure - the pilot can learn the system, but should he/she be forced to follow an arcane procedure in an emergency to decipher some flashing lights to figure out which throttle to advance after losing an engine, instead of always having the left throttle control the left engine and the right throttle control the right?
Make NO mistake about it - that was almost the WORST DISASTER IN AVIATION HISTORY! By the grace of God and quick action by the pilot, it was avoided. But now that means that this is an URGENT problem - to be solved NOW. Basically Tenerife X 2 almost just happened at SFO. There is no room for a slow or wishy-washy FAA response.