For Immediate Release

August 16, 2007
Contact: Alison Duquette
Phone: (202) 267-3883

Aviation Community Offers Short-Term Plan


On August 15, more than 40 aviation leaders from airlines, airports, air traffic control and pilot unions, aerospace manufacturers, and the FAA agreed to quickly implement a five point short-term plan 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.

Blakey asked the meeting participants to consider solutions in four areas: cockpit procedures, airport signage and markings, air traffic procedures, and technology. Led by Bobby Sturgell, Deputy Administrator and Acting Chief Operating Officer for the Air Traffic Organization, the aviation community agreed to a five point short-term plan:

  1. Within 60 days, teams of FAA, airport operators, and airlines will begin safety reviews at the airports where wrong runway departures and runway incursions are the greatest concern. The FAA is compiling the list of 20 to 30 airports based on a variety of safety risk factors, including the record of past incursions.
  2. Within 60 days, disseminate information and training across the entire aviation industry.
  3. Within 60 days, accelerate the deployment of improved airport signage and markings at the top 75 airports, well ahead of the June 2008 mandated deadline.
  4. Within 60 days, review cockpit procedures and air traffic control (ATC) clearance procedures. This may include changing cockpit procedures to minimize pilot activities and distractions while an aircraft is moving on the ground and to make ATC instructions more precise.
  5. Implement a voluntary self-reporting system for all air traffic organization safety personnel, such as air traffic controllers and technicians.

Mid- and to long-term goal areas are being pursued to address maximizing situational awareness, minimizing pilot distractions, and eliminating runway incursions using procedures and technology.

Runway Incursions

A runway incursion is an incident on a runway involving an aircraft, vehicle, person, or object that creates a collision hazard or results in loss of required separation with an aircraft preparing to take off or land. So far in 2007, there have been 21 serious runway incursions (A&B events), eight of which involved commercial air carriers.

Recent Events

On July 11, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 on arrival at Fort Lauderdale touched down and had to take off again to avoid colliding with a United Airlines Airbus A320 that was taxiing to a runway and had missed a turn.

On July 5, a Delta Air Lines landing at La Guardia Airport in New York narrowly missed a Delta Air Lines Connection commuter jet that has been mistakenly cleared to taxi across the runway at the same time.  

On August 27, 2006, a Comair jet crashed after taking off from a wrong runway that was too short for commercial flights, killing all but one of the 50 people onboard.

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.

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