Incursions Down At Dozens Of Airports
FAA officials say after ratcheting
up airport markings and giving clearer instruction that runway
incursion safety has improved.
A two-month binge on dozens of airports to increase safety by
painting brighter runway markings, airline pilot training and
clearer taxiing instructions during an industry-wide effort to
improve aircraft safety on the ground is working.
After a spate of near-misses this summer, Transportation
Secretary Mary Peters ordered immediate action in August, reported
Bobby Sturgell, acting Federal Aviation Administrator, reports The
"Our runways are safe, and the call to action ratcheted that up
a notch," Sturgell said.
- 52 of the 75 largest airports, which handle 90 percent of U.S.
air passengers, and 24 smaller airports have painted new, brighter
runway centerlines. Others are planning to repaint and the FAA is
preparing to require the rest of the 569 airports it regulates to
follow suit soon.
- 20 airports with high incident histories have completed safety
- 104 of 112 airlines have begun new pilot training with
simulator scenarios that include complex taxiing instructions and
distractions like trucks on the tarmac.
- 101 airlines have reviewed cockpit procedures to keep takeoff
checklists from distracting pilots after the aircraft is
The FAA has decided to require controllers to give more explicit
taxiing instructions to pilots, including a route to their runway,
not merely which runway to use.
The FAA is also proposing a new penalty-free safety incident
reporting system for controllers and plans to introduce new
electronic ground-movement-monitoring equipment in 2010, instead of
Sturgell started with a rosy review of safety data: Two of
the most serious kinds of runway mistakes declined to an all-time
low of 24 in the last 12 months, from 31 the previous fiscal year.
Only the least serious kind — ones with no danger of a
collision — rose and Sturgell attributed that to better
Peters looked past the statistics, which appeared to improving
but called the industry to action after some dramatic near misses
and failures, including:
- A Delta Boeing 757 touched down in Fort Lauderdale, FL July 11,
and had to take off immediately to avoid hitting a United Airbus
A320 that had mistakenly turned onto its runway.
- A Delta Boeing 737 landing at New York's LaGuardia airport July
5 narrowly missed a commuter jet mistakenly cleared to taxi across
- Comair 5191, which took off from a too-short runway in
Lexington, KY on August 27, 2006, killing 49 people.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating
several incidents and near misses this year.
LaGuardia and Fort Lauderdale incidents and four other
near-misses at airports this year — two in Denver, and one
each in San Francisco and Los Angeles are still under review.
Suggestions by the NTSB over the Lexington crash have yet to
implemented by the FAA.