Incursions Up 12 Percent In FY2007
We knew it was bad...
but thanks to a study conducted by the Government Accountability
Office, we now know just how bad the ongoing runway incursion
A GAO review of FAA data on such incursions found that for the
fiscal year that ended September 30, the number of runway
incursions rose 12 percent over previous years... a sign efforts by
the FAA to improve runway safety aren't keeping pace.
The GAO report also determined roughly 1/3 of all incursions
between FY2002 and FY2007 involved at least on commercial airliner,
according to Reuters, with the balance involving private
The number of all incursions peaked at over 400 reported
incidents in FY2001, according to the GAO, then declined and
leveled off... before climbing sharply to this year's total of
If there's any good news to be taken from the report, it's that
the number of the most serious incursions have fallen by half since
2001... and dropped further in fiscal 2007 to 24. Eight of those
cases involved commercial aircraft.
"The GAO findings are distressing," said Minnesota Congressman
James Oberstar, chairman of the Transportation Committee in the
House of Representatives.
The FAA has made efforts to fix the problem, said the GAO, with
the most effective solutions also being the least expensive ones...
including updated airport signage and lighting. But increasing
congestion and shortcomings within the agency have stymied those
Among the criticisms
levied at the FAA include gaps in leadership, poor coordination on
a number of safety goals and cost overruns on new technologies
aimed at alerting controllers to possible conflicts, reports
The GAO also cited air traffic controller fatigue as a
“Air traffic controller fatigue continues to be a human
factors issue affecting runway safety,” the report states,
adding fatigue “may result from regularly working
overtime” and that, “We found that as of May 2007, at
least 20 percent of the controllers at 25 air traffic control
facilities, including towers at several of the country’s
busiest airports, were regularly working six-day weeks.”
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association -- locked in a
bitter fight with FAA management over a new contract -- applauded
the GAO's recognition of fatigue as a problem.
“This report provides yet another credible, compelling and
clear link between safety and controller fatigue, which is caused
by staffing shortages and longer hours on the job," said NATCA
president Patrick Forrey.