FAA Announces Serious Runway Incursions Down by 50 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt announced today that serious runway incursions were down 50 percent for the most recent 12-month period compared to the previous year.

There were 12 serious incursions in fiscal year 2009 which ended Sept. 30, with only two involving commercial carriers, compared to 25 such events in fiscal year 2008, with nine involving commercial carriers. A runway incursion occurs when something or someone intrudes on a runway without authorization. A serious incursion is one in which a collision was narrowly avoided, or there was a significant potential for collision that resulted in the need to take quick corrective action.

“The aviation community agreed two years ago at FAA’s Runway Safety ‘Call to Action’ meeting to implement safety improvements at U.S. airports,” said Administrator Babbitt. “Teamwork helped get us to where we are today. But while the 50 percent reduction is remarkable, there is still much work to be done to continue to reduce the potential risk.”

Close calls in 2007 at some of the busiest U.S. airports prompted the FAA to take immediate action to reduce the risk of runway incursions and wrong runway departures. There were 24 serious runway incursions that year, eight of them involving commercial carriers. FAA management met with aviation leaders from airlines, airports, air traffic control and pilot unions, and aerospace manufacturers to encourage them to take action in areas that would result in safety improvements. As a result, an intense effort was launched to expedite the installation of new technology at airports, complete proper signage and markings at airports and conduct outreach and re-train pilots.

Continuing its efforts to improve runway safety at airports, the FAA is hosting an international runway safety meeting on Dec. 1-3 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Safety experts from the aviation industry and labor are expected to leave the meeting with ideas and plans on how to eventually eliminate runway incursions worldwide. The event, the FAA’s first international gathering of the runway safety community, will be co-sponsored by the American Association of Airport Executives and MITRE Corp.

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