Runway Condition Reports

  Steve WolfSep 22, 2016  

Effective October 1, airports are required to report runway conditions using a new scale.  To date, runway conditions have been reported as good, fair, poor, or nil.  From now on, however, they’ll be reported using a Runway Condition Code (RwyCC), and fair has been replaced with medium.

Here’s how GA pilots can convert the RwyCC to something more familiar…

RwyCC Braking Action
6 (uncontaminated)
5 Good
4 Good to Medium
3 Medium
2 Medium to Poor
1 Poor
0 Nil

The RwyCC is reported via a Field Conditions (FICON) NOTAM for each third of the runway.  For example, 5/4/5 means the first third of the runway is Good, the middle third is Good to Medium, and the final third is Good.

Airport operators have a Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) that they use to determine which RwyCC to report. Airline pilots have their own version of RCAM which tells them whether or not they can land based on each code. Life is simpler for GA pilots; we just need the table above and our common sense.

Another change that comes with this is that if the braking action is nil, the airport must close the runway. They must also temporarily close the runway each time they assess the condition, because they need to drive along the runway with their sensors.

You can see the airport operator’s RCAM and some additional information on the FAA website.

So be on the lookout for temporary runway closure NOTAMS and FICON NOTAMS this winter during inclement weather.