Striving for Zero Serious Close Calls on the Nation’s Runways During One of the Busiest Summers in Years

Thursday, June 13, 2024

WASHINGTON — As part of the comprehensive effort to end serious close calls, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working with airports across the nation to reduce the risk of vehicle and pedestrian deviations on the airfield as travel picks up this summer. 

Warm weather means more flights, as well as increased runway construction and maintenance at commercial and general aviation airports. This raises the risk of unauthorized vehicles and pedestrians entering the runways and creating the potential for vehicle/pedestrian deviations.  

As part of the FAA’s commitment to safety, the agency sent airport directors refreshed training materials on vehicle/pedestrian deviations. The video emphasizes the need to improve procedures on the airfield and to enhance situational awareness of critical airport changes, construction, safety-area boundaries, airport-specific hotspots, and to use clear and concise communication with the control tower or other aircraft and surface vehicles. 

Situational awareness is also enhanced with the use of technologies like Vehicle Movement Area Transponders and Runway Incursion Warning Systems. 

“With a busy summer travel season already underway, we are always looking for ways to improve safety across all airport operations,” said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker. “Safety is a team sport, and we all must do our part.”   

Last year, the number of vehicle/pedestrian deviations more than doubled over a four-month period, from 14 in April to 32 by August. This year, the FAA wants to get ahead of that trend.  

As the FAA and aviation community pursue a goal of zero serious close calls, here are some additional initiatives that help protect the traveling public:  

  • The FAA has installed ASDE-X or ASSC at 44 of the nation’s busiest commercial airports, and installed Approach Runway Verification (ARV) in 13 control towers and will deploy ARV at other facilities across the nation throughout the rest of the year and into 2025. 
  • The FAA will install the Surface Awareness Initiative system at Austin-Bergstrom, Indianapolis, Nashville and Dallas Love Field airports this summer and at scores of other airports by the end of 2025 and will install Runway Incursion Devices at five airports for an operational evaluation before the end of this year and deploy them to 74 airports beginning in 2025. 
  • The FAA holds regular runway safety action team meetings at airports across the country, and issues arrival alert notices for pilots and controllers. 
  • The FAA is accelerating air traffic controller hiring and enhancing controller safety training with modernized tower simulators.