DECEMBER 05, 2007
While the U.S. government has boasted of improved air safety in recent years the reality is that it has declined tremendously with record amounts of runway incursions at major airports around the nation.
In fact, the rate of close calls between aircraft on the ground is unprecedented across the country as well as the number of serious runway incursions, despite claims by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that pilots and air traffic controllers follow federal rules that permit only one plane at a time on or near a runway.
An alarming 86-page report, published this week by the investigative arm of Congress, details the serious safety mishaps across the country and especially at the nation’s busiest airports. Investigators found that runway safety gains achieved earlier this decade have been eroded by overworked controllers and lack of leadership at the FAA, the federal agency in charge of aviation safety.
The agency has for years been in hot water for failing to address the widespread practice of aircraft violating crucial safety zones around runways. At Los Angeles International Airport, for instance, the negligent practice has caused a record number of close calls in the last year and a half, according to the report.
Investigators also found that the rate of serious close calls is not limited to major airports and has remained alarmingly steady from 2002 to 2006, suggesting a “high risk of a catastrophic runway collision occurring in the United States.”
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