For Immediate Release

October 31, 2007
Contact: Tammy L. Jones or Paul Takemoto
Phone: (202) 267-3883

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that it exceeded its goal for reducing the most serious runway incursions by 25 percent in fiscal year 2007. There were 24 serious runway incursions this past year out of more than 61 million operations, or one incursion for every 2,545,000 operations, improving on the agency’s goal of no more than one incursion for every two million surface movements.

“The agency’s focus on better training, clearer signs and new procedures has made our runways safer,” said FAA’s Chief Operating Officer for the Air Traffic Organization Hank Krakowski. “However, there is still much more we can and will do to address this very important safety issue.”

The FAA and industry leaders recently identified short-term steps that could be implemented within 60 days. The initiatives center on improved procedures, increased training for airport and airline personnel, and enhanced airports signs and markings. The FAA just completed a runway safety review of 20 airports — a list based on runway incursion data and wrong-runway issues. Based on the findings, airports have taken action to improve signage and paint markings, as well put training programs in place for airport personnel. Another short-term initiative is an agreement with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) to put in place a voluntary reporting system.

Reducing the risk of runway incursions is one of the FAA’s top priorities, as even one mishap on a runway could be catastrophic. The agency has been aggressively addressing the issue and has made progress reducing the most serious incidents (categorized as As and Bs), particularly those involving commercial aircraft. The number of serious runway incursions has dropped by about 55 percent since fiscal year 2001.

In the longer term, the agency will be looking towards technological solutions. These will include cockpit warning systems and the deployment of runway status lights in conjunction with ASDE-X, a safety tool that enables air traffic controllers to detect potential runway conflicts by providing detailed coverage of movement on runways and taxiways.

The agency is taking a close look at the performance of lower-cost ground surveillance systems currently being tested and evaluated. These systems will provide cost effective alternatives to ASDE-X. While not as sophisticated as ASDE-X, they provide incremental situational awareness for controllers.