Mon, 25 Sep 2023

After six near misses at airports, US begins investigation

Robert Besser
28 May 2023, 09:17 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: Jennifer Homendy, head of the US National Transportation Safety Board, has said the US will investigate recent near miss incidents at airports.

"The US needs to invest more in aviation safety technology solutions after a series of close-call runway incidents this year," said Homendy.

Six runway close-calls between aircraft have occurred since January and are currently being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board.

Some 43 US airports use technology systems that detect aircraft and ground vehicles to prevent runway incursions, but they need to be upgraded, while other commercial airports require the adoption of additional technologies, Homendy added.

She made her statement during a five-hour meeting with industry, union, government and academic representatives, which discussed addressing runway close-calls.

"We have to make sure all these upgrades to safety can be funded," Homendy said, adding that proper pilot and air traffic control staffing was also important.

There has been no major fatal passenger airline crash in the US, which has some 500 commercial airports, since February 2009.

In March, the FAA said it began upgrading air traffic control systems, organizing a safety summit and issuing a safety alert. In April, it formed an independent safety review team, and this week it announced an investment of $100 million in 12 airports for upgrading taxiways and lighting to reduce runway incursions.

A FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 came within about 115 feet of each other in Austin, Texas on 4th February during poor visibility conditions, which could have led to a "terrible tragedy," Homendy said.

Near-miss incidents have also occurred in Boston and Florida, and there was a near collision between a Delta Air Lines plane and an American Airlines Boeing 777 at New York's JFK airport.

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