The FAA is in a hurry to get answers about why it’s seeing so many close calls on airport runways before it’s too late.
The US Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it would hold runway safety meetings at 90 airports over the next few weeks after a series of troubling aviation incidents.
Earlier this month, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said they were investigating a near collision between a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 and a Cessna Citation 560X business jet in San Diego.
The NTSB is investigating seven runway incursion events since January, including the San Diego incident.
In March, the FAA said it was taking steps to improve its air traffic control operations after near misses, telling employees, “There’s no question we’re seeing too many close calls.”
In meetings of the “Runway Safety Action Team” that took place until the end of September, the FAA stated that representatives of the FAA’s air traffic organization, airlines, pilots, airport vehicle drivers and others “will come together to identify unique surface safety risks at this time.” airport and develop plans to mitigate or eliminate these risks.
The FAA has been without a permanent administrator since April 2022. President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the agency Phil Washington stepped down in March, and the White House has yet to choose a new nominee.
Assistant Secretary for Transportation Polly Trottenberg since June, she has served as Acting Administrator of the FAA in addition to her duties at USDOT.
The FAA said its preliminary review of the Aug. 11 incident showed an air traffic controller at San Diego International Airport cleared the Cessna to land even though Southwest Airlines Flight 2493 had already received the order to drive on the same track and wait for instructions to leave.
A similar near-miss incident occurred in February in Austin, Texas, when a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Boeing 737 came within approximately 115 feet (35 meters) in poor weather conditions. visibility. The controller had cleared the FedEx plane to land and the Southwest plane to take off.
The FAA held a safety summit and issued a safety alert in March to airlines, pilots and others, citing the “need for continued vigilance and attention to risk mitigation for the safety”.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Bernadette Baum)