US FAA to hold new round of runway-safety meetings after close calls By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A commercial aircraft approaches to land at San Diego International Airport in San Diego, California, U.S., January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it would hold runway safety meetings at 16 additional airports in the coming weeks after a series of troubling close-call aviation incidents.

In August, the FAA said it was holding meetings at 90 airports after the National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating seven runway incursion events since January, including some that were potentially catastrophic.

The new meetings with the FAA, airlines, pilots, airport vehicle drivers and others will take place by Dec. 31. They will include Boston, Newark, Washington Reagan and the Dallas-Fort Worth airports, address unique concerns at individual airports and develop plans to mitigate or avoid risks.

On Thursday, a U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on recent incidents that raised questions about FAA air traffic control operations.

The hearing will include FAA Air Traffic Organization head Tim Arel, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Rich Santa, Air Lines Pilots Association President Jason Ambrosi and former FAA administrator Randy Babbitt.

“There have been far too many close calls and near-misses on our runways,” Homendy said last week.

In August, a Southwest Airlines (NYSE:) Boeing (NYSE:) 737 and a Cessna business jet approached within 100 feet (30 meters) of each other at San Diego International Airport after an air traffic controller cleared one plane to land and the other to take off from the same runway.

A similar near-collision occurred in February in Austin, Texas, when a FedEx (NYSE:) cargo plane approached to land and a Southwest Boeing 737 preparing to take off came within 115 feet (35 meters) of each other in poor visibility conditions.

The FAA said in September it was seeking recommendations on making it compulsory for airports to include cockpit-alerting technologies that could improve runway safety.

It also commissioned a safety review team that is expected to release findings this month.

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