U.S. Data: Calif. Airports Have Poor Runway Safety

John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Long Beach Airport, and LAX have the worst runway safety records recently among the nation's busiest airports.


Looking down from the LAX control tower, the potential for problems is obvious as a succession of arriving jets nose up to a stop line before reaching the inner runway as other planes roar down it.

"I always equate it to the same act of faith as pulling up to a traffic signal and you've got a green light and you see somebody pulling up in the other direction," said Mike Foote, the air traffic controllers union representative at LAX. In other words, you assume - and hope - they'll stop.

Authorities have tried to address LAX's problem by installing new technology in the control tower, and placing "hot spot" warning signs on the LAX charts pilots use. Additionally, LAX has spent $8 million on better airfield signs, lighting and markings, said spokesman Paul Haney. And, next year, the airport is scheduled to get a new ground radar system that will give air traffic controllers precise information about the locations of planes on the airfield.

A major airfield rejiggering should also give air traffic controllers greater control over the planes they guide. The project faces environmental lawsuits, but the airport hopes to settle those and begin construction early next year.

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