Ending Serious Close Calls
The U.S. aviation system is the safest in the world, but one close call is one too many. In February 2023 the FAA issued a Safety Call to Action to take a critical look at the U.S. aerospace system’s structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts.
The FAA and the aviation community are pursuing a goal of zero serious close calls by examining a combination of technical and human factors. The same approach virtually eliminated the risk of fatalities aboard U.S. commercial airlines. Since 2009, U.S. carriers have transported more than the world’s population with no fatal crashes.
The FAA maintains extremely conservative standards for keeping aircraft safely separated. Safety experts follow up on all events — even those in which no collision was imminent or even possible — and evaluate them for safety risks.
Established a new advisory rulemaking committee to investigate the requirement of new technologies, such as cockpit-alerting systems, to improve runway safety.
Issued a safety alert to ensure operations are conducted at the highest level of safety, including changes to procedures or training.
Announced steps the agency’s Air Traffic Organization will take to ensure supervisors devote their full attention to the operation and airfield during peak traffic.
Invested $121M to reduce runway incursions at 8 airports, in addition to the more than $100M invested in 12 airports earlier this year.
Multiple layers of safety protect the traveling public, including: Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems on commercial aircraft, surface safety technology at the country's biggest airports, and robust procedures. Human factors including runway signage, air traffic controllers, and pilots all play critical roles. The agency has hired 1,500 controllers for FY2023. This is in addition to the more than 2,600 controllers that are at various levels of training at air traffic facilities across the country.
From the Flight Deck and the Runway Safety Pilot Simulator
The FAA has produced 100 site-specific From the Flight Deck videos to educate and inform pilots and controllers of the risk associated with operating at specific airports around the National Airspace System. Other videos cover topics such as human factors and multitasking, wrong surface landings, winter weather challenges and wrong direction intersection takeoffs.
Communication errors between pilots and controllers are top contributors to runway safety incidents, and aviation has a unique language designed to ensure effective communication. This video explores some of the words and phrases you might encounter when operating on the surface of an airport or preparing to land.
FAA's Runway Safety Pilot Simulator video series is a self-guided resource to assist flight instructors with teaching student pilots surface safety best practices, before they step foot into the cockpit. Learn more.
This video is dedicated to understanding the basics of human factors as well as appropriate mitigation techniques.
Arrival Alert Notices
A picture is worth a thousand words, so the FAA also added new graphics visually depicting the approach to airports with a history of misalignment risk, and language describing the misalignment risk. Watch the Arrival Alert Notices video and view Arrival Alert Notices currently available for 12 airports.
Automated Closure Notice Diagrams
The FAA’s Federal NOTAM System added automated publications of Airport Construction Notices. In addition, pilots now have access to Automated Closure Notice Diagrams.
Hot Spot Standardization
In May 2022, the FAA standardized hot spot symbology and verbiage on airport diagrams, bringing consistency to how areas that may present risk are displayed. Watch the Hot Spot Standardization video and learn more about the standardized symbols and what they mean.
Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X)
ASDE-X integrates data from a variety of sources and provides tower controllers a surface traffic situation display with visual and audible alerting of traffic conflicts and potential collisions. Learn more about ASDE-X.
Airport Surface Surveillance Capability (ASSC)
ASSC improves surface surveillance and situational awareness in all kinds of weather. With ASSC air traffic controllers see aircraft and ground vehicles on the airport surface, and on approach and departure paths within a few miles of the airport. Learn more about ASSC.
ASDE-X and ASSC Taxiway Arrival Prediction (ATAP)
ATAP is an enhancement to the ASDE-X and ASSC alerting capabilities that warns air traffic controllers that an aircraft is aligned with a taxiway rather that the assigned runway. ATAP is enabled at all ASDE-X airports and ASSC airports.
Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) with Moving Map Displays
EFB, Moving Map Displays and Aircraft Own-Ship Position help pilots determine where their aircraft is on the airfield thereby reducing confusion and the risk of being in the wrong place. Learn more about EFB in the “Safe and Sound on the Ground: An EFB Approach to App-roach to Improving Surface Safety” article in the March/April 2021 FAA Safety Briefing Magazine.
Air traffic control facilities host annual Runway Safety Action Team meetings, where all users of that airport (pilots, controllers, vehicle drivers) come together and discuss any incidents, safety concerns and solutions. These meetings are the primary forum for pinpointing and addressing airport-specific risk in the surface environment. The product of the meeting is a Runway Safety Action Plan where stakeholders document and agree to pursue specific actions to improve surface safety.
After analyzing years of national runway incursion data, we initiated a comprehensive multi-year Runway Incursion Mitigation (RIM) program to identify, prioritize, and develop strategies to help airport sponsors mitigate risk.
Runway Incursion Data
A runway incursion is any occurrence at an airport involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on a runway. Incursions are caused by operational incidents, pilot deviations, and vehicle/pedestrian deviations; and they vary greatly in type and severity.
The number and rate of serious runway incursions are steadily declining since the pandemic.
Cause of runway incursions for CY2023:
- 60% are Pilot Deviations
- 20% are Operational Incidents
- 20% are Vehicle/Pedestrian deviations