While Hillsboro Airport (HIO), Oregon, has reported a massive number of runway incursions, 29, in one year’s time from February 2022-2023, it was not on the Federal Aviation Administration’s list to receive funds through its Runway Incursion Mitigation Program. The FAA has awarded more than $100 million to 12 airports across the country to reduce runway incursions, all of which have significantly less incursions than HIO, and all of them with less severe classifications.

According to the FAA, a runway incursion is any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft. The FAA classifies incursions from class A to D, with A being the most severe – an incursion that resulted in an actual collision.

Out of HIO’s 29 runway incursions, one is classified B, citing an incident where separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision. Out of all 12 airports who will receive funding from the FAA to reduce incursions, none of them reported a class B – only less severe C & D.

The airport with the most funding awarded, Tuscon International Airport with $33.1 million, had only 7 runway incursions during the same period, where five are category D (the least severe) and only two are Category C. The funds will support projects to reconfigure taxiways that may cause confusion, install airfield lighting or construct new taxiways to provide more flexibility on the airfield.

The agency’s Runway Incursion Mitigation Program was developed to identify airports that have risk factors that might contribute to runway incursions. Those factors include complexity and airfield layout. As part of the RIM program, the FAA, airports and industry work together to find solutions and share best practices.

"Some airfields have complex layouts that can create confusion for pilots and other airport users. This funding will reconfigure complex taxiway and runway intersections to help prevent incursions and enhance the safety of the National Airspace System," said FAA Associate Administrator Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E.

HIO is a busy general aviation airport located 15 miles west of the larger Portland International in Hillsboro, Oregon. The airport configuration consists of parallel runways 13 left and right, and 31 left and right, and runway 2-20. Runway 2-20 intersects runway 13 right, 31 left. The system of taxiways provides access to all businesses, hangars, and ramp areas located around the airport.

In an overview of the airport, the FAA states in its From the Flight Deck video that: “There is extensive flight training at the airport, a large number of based aircraft, and business and corporate aviation services that utilize the airport. The mix of pilot experience and pilot capabilities makes HIO an interesting and challenging environment.”

The FAA also states in its overview that “extra attention needs to be paid to runway assignment when arriving or departing Portland-Hillsboro, as the runway numbering has been the source of confusion for pilots.”

Despite the alarming number of incursions, none of the other airports who received funds from the FAA reported anything close to 29. The most incursions reported in the list of 12 airports goes to Harry Reid International Airport, Nevada, who had 13 – 8 class D (the least severe) and 5 class C.

However, when interviewed by KGW8 News, an FAA spokesperson stated: "HIO is not experiencing a high number of high-risk events. However, since the number of runway incursions is higher than some other airports, the runway safety office monitors the actions that the airport is taking and assists them when needed or requested."