Government Report Takes Aim at Runway Safety

Authors call for increased FAA oversight.



The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report last Friday highlighting what it called a steady upward trend in runway incursions at towered airports.

The report cites the large increase in runway incursions at towered airports in recent years, a number that has risen from 11 incursions per million operations in 2004 to 18 incursions per million operations in 2010, as cause for concern. The report also notes that air traffic control errors have almost doubled since the second quarter of 2007 to the same time period this year -- an increase that coincided with new procedures that encourage incident reporting.

While the authors of the report did mention that the increases can be “somewhat attributed” to the change in reporting procedures, they maintained “trends may also indicate an increase in the actual occurrence of incidents.”

As a result of their findings, the authors have recommended that the FAA extend their oversight of terminal safety oversight to take into account previously unreported incidents involving runway overruns and ramp mishaps.