FAA Safety Call to Action
Safety is our North star.
We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted. Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent. Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions. - Billy Nolen, former Acting FAA Administrator
Aviation Safety guides everything we do, which is why reducing surface safety risk remains a top priority. As a result of recent incidents, we are taking a critical look at the U.S. aerospace system’s structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts.
In February 2023 former FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen issued a Safety Call to Action with the goal of ensuring that our structure is fit for purpose for the U.S. aerospace system both today and the future.
FAA Aviation Safety Summit
The initial focus was to hold a Safety Summit in March 2023 during which more than 200 safety leaders from across the aviation industry met to discuss ways to enhance flight safety. Former Acting Administrator Nolen addressed commercial and general aviation leaders, labor partners, and others urging them look at all aspects of their operations with fresh eyes and to “question conventional wisdom” while brainstorming concrete actions to further enhance aviation safety.
During the Summit, breakout sessions centered on commercial operations, the air traffic system, airport and ground operations, and general aviation operations. The industry groups focused on the recent string of incidents for ways to address areas where the existing safety system could be tightened to prevent future occurrences.
The FAA provided a full readout of the Safety Summit breakout panel discussions.
Actions the FAA Has Taken
- Released a report from the Independent Aviation Safety Review Team examining ways to enhance safety and reliability in the nation's air traffic system.
- Scheduled 16 runway safety meetings for the remainder of 2023; in addition to the 90 Runway Safety Action Team meetings already held at airports across the country.
- Announced investment of over $200M for runway lighting at large and small airports.
- Fast-tracked three initiatives to address specific safety concerns on the airport surface.
- Established a new advisory rulemaking committee to investigate the requirement of new technologies, such as cockpit-alerting systems, to improve runway safety.
- Issued alert to prevent injuries to ground crews.
- Invested $121M to reduce runway incursions at 8 airports, in addition to the more than $100M invested in 12 airports earlier this year.
- Projects will reconfigure taxiways that may cause confusion, install new lighting systems and provide more flexibility on the airfield.
- What is a runway incursion?
- Launched Controller “Stand Up for Safety” Campaign.
- The series will provide mandatory special emphasis training for its controller workforce.
- Hosted a Surface Safety Industry Day
- On Tuesday, June 6, 2023 the FAA hosted an industry event to begin the search for a new surface situational awareness tool.
- The goal of the event was to gain a better understanding of commercially available and production-ready industry solutions and capabilities that could enhance situational awareness in the surface safety environment. The FAA was specifically interested in discussing cost-effective technological solutions that may be viable for deployment at airports without existing surface surveillance capabilities.
- Announced steps the agency’s Air Traffic Organization will take including:
- Ensure that supervisors devote their full attention to the operation and airfield during peak traffic periods at each facility.
- Provide more dedicated training for unusual circumstances
- Issued a safety alert with specific recommendations to ensure operations are conducted at the highest level of safety, including changes to procedures or training.
What the Data Tells Us
One of our safety goals is to eliminate all dangerous runway incidents. We use data as a tool to monitor and measure our performance towards that goal. This data visualization shows the latest data and a positive, downward trend in the most severe type of incursions (Category A and Category B.)
While the data shows we are making progress, one runway incursion is one too many. Efforts from the Safety Summit continue, and we remain committed to achieving our long-term goal of zero close calls. We will continue to share more types of data on all our safety initiatives.