The U.S. aviation community has initiated and completed significant short-term actions to improve safety at U.S. airports. Recent close calls at some of our nation’s busiest airports show that action must be taken to reduce the risk of runway incursions and wrong runway departures.
Led by Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell, more than 40 aviation leaders from airlines, airports, air traffic control and pilot unions, aerospace manufacturers, agreed on August 15, 2007, to an ambitiousplan focused on solutions in: cockpit procedures, airport signage and markings, air traffic procedures, and technology.
The following is a summary of the aviation industry’s short-term accomplishments. Work continues on mid- and long-term goals.
Upgrade Airport Markings at Medium and Large Airports
Action: All airports with more than 1.5 million enplanements to voluntarily accelerate the enhancement of new markings that the FAA originally required by June 30, 2008.
Status: As of today, 72 of the targeted 75 airports have completed painting. The remaining three will have their markings upgraded in advance of the June 2008 deadline.
Upgrade Airport Markings at Smaller Airports
Action: All airports certificated under Part 139 to develop plans to voluntarily upgrade existing markings, even though it is not required.
Status: As of today, 90 airports have upgraded their markings, and an additional 332 airports have committed to making the upgrades. This means 422 of the 492 small certificated airports (86 percent) have agreed to voluntarily complete the installation of enhanced markings. The FAA continues to track the progress with airport sponsors and provide assistance.
The FAA is taking steps to mandate extending the enhanced taxiway centerline requirement to all certificated airports. The Office of Airport Safety and Standards issued a draft change to Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5340-1J, Standards for Airport Markings, in late December 2007. The comment period closed on February 26, 2008. After reviewing the comments, the FAA has decided that airports with less than 1.5 million annual passenger enplanements, but more than 370,000 annual passenger enplanements, must complete enhanced taxiway centerline markings by March 31, 2009. For the remaining smaller airports, the deadline will be March 31, 2010. The FAA signed the AC on March 25, 2008, and it will be effective March 31, 2008.
Airport Recurrent Training
Action: All other certificated airports to voluntarily develop plans to require annual recurrent training to all individuals with access to movement areas such as runways and taxiways.
Status: All of the 567 certificated airports in the United States require initial and recurrent training for airport employees such as airport police and airport maintenance workers. As a result of the Call to Action, there are currently 420 airports that require recurrent training for non-airport employees such as Fixed-Based Operators or airline mechanics. Additionally, 94 airports plan to adopt this requirement. To date, nearly 91% of the certificated airports have agreed to step up to the Call to Action challenge. Regional offices continue to track the progress with airport sponsors and provide assistance.
The Office of Airport Safety and Standards issued a draft change to AC 150/5210-20, Ground Vehicle Operations on Airports, in late December 2007. The comment period closed on February 26, 2008. Based on a review of comments, the AC change strongly recommends regular recurrent driver training for all persons with access to the movement area. The FAA signed the AC on March 25, 2008, and it will be effective March 31, 2008. In addition, the FAA is undertaking a rulemaking process that will make this training mandatory.
Airport Surface Analysis
Action: Complete a runway safety review of 20 airports based on runway incursion data and wrong runway departure data.
Status: Reviews of all 20 airports are complete and have resulted in more than 100 short-term and numerous mid- and long-term initiatives. Almost all of the short-term initiatives identified have already been completed. The agency has evaluated lessons learned from the initial surface analysis and have modified the format for future Runway Safety Action Team (RSAT) meetings and incorporated evaluation of the wrong runway risk factors identified by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) into the RSATs.
The first tier included: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International; Dekalb Peachtree (Atlanta); Logan International; O’Hare International; Dallas/Ft. Worth International; Denver International; Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International; McCarran International (Las Vegas); North Las Vegas; Long Beach/Daugherty Field; Los Angeles International; Miami International; General Mitchell International (Milwaukee); John F. Kennedy International; Orlando International; Philadelphia International; Reno-Tahoe International; San Francisco International; Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International; and John Wayne Airport (Orange County) Santa Ana.
The FAA is addressing a second tier of 22 airports over the next several months: Albuquerque International Sunport; Anchorage International; Rocky Mountain Metropolitan (Denver); Nashville International; Cleveland-Hopkins International; Charlotte/Douglas International; Daytona Beach International; Falcon Field (Mesa); Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport; William P. Hobby Airport (Houston); Washington Dulles International; Lubbock Preston Smith International; La Guardia Airport; Adams Field (Little Rock); Midland International (Texas); Chicago Midway; San Antonio International; Santa Barbara Muni; Seattle-Tacoma International; Lambert-St Louis International; Teterboro Airport (New Jersey); Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (Miami).
Air Carrier Pilot Training
Action: Air carriers to provide pilots with simulator or other training that incorporates realistic scenarios from pushback through taxi.
Status: Of the 112 active air carriers, all have reported that they are in compliance.
Air Carrier Cockpit Procedures
Action: Air carriers to review cockpit procedures to identify and develop a plan to address elements that contribute to pilot distraction during taxi.
Status: Of the 112 active air carriers, all have reported that they are in compliance.
Air Carrier Employee Training
Action: Air carriers to establish mandatory recurrent training for non-pilot employees who operate aircraft or vehicles on the airfield.
Status: The FAA reviewed existing videos, posted FAA Notice No. 0988 containing visual depictions (FAASafety.gov), and is developing a new DVD to be distributed to air carriers to be used in training programs.
Air Traffic Procedures
Action: Conduct a safety risk analysis of: explicit taxi clearance instructions, explicit runway crossings clearances, take off clearances, multiple landing clearances (including landing clearances too far from the airport). Adapt international phraseology such as "line-up and wait" instead of the U.S. "position and hold" phraseology.
Status: The FAA has completed an analysis pertaining to taxi clearances and found that more explicit instructions are desirable. The FAA will implement new requirements no later than June 2008. Other safety risk analyses are being reviewed.
FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Voluntary Reporting
Action: Work with labor unions on an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for air traffic controllers. ASAP is already used successfully by 67 air carriers to encourage voluntary reporting of safety by pilots, dispatchers, flight attendants or mechanics.
Status: A partnership agreement between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) was signed in October 2007 that covers all ATO air traffic controllers. The FAA and NATCA will work together to develop and implement the voluntary reporting system for air traffic controllers. The FAA is planning to extend voluntary safety reporting to airway transportation system specialists in the future.
Reducing Pilot Deviations
The majority of runway incursions are caused by pilots in violation of regulations and air traffic control instructions–also known as pilot deviations.
On January 15, Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell met by phone with air carrier CEOs to underscore the importance of direct contact with all pilots and flight engineers about the continuing runway safety risk. Four executives of the Flight Standards Service, including Director Jim Ballough and the Deputy Director John Allen, were dispatched to meet face-to-face with the chief pilot, director of safety, and director of operations for every U.S. air carrier. Those meetings were held over a seven-day period ending on January 25. Key officers of every air carrier attended the meetings, a total of 325 air carrier and 224 FAA representatives.
As a result of the FAA's outreach, air carriers will provide pilots and flights engineers with the current data on runway incursions and will require crew members to review online informational safety programs by May 1. Detailed information is available at:
Background on Runway Incursions
A runway incursion is the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing or take-off of aircraft. In 2007, there were 24 serious runway incursions (A&B events), eight of which involved commercial air carriers.
For More Information
For background information on runway safety and technologies such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and GPS Aircraft Positioning, go to http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets.