Runway collision risks still high, GAO says
WASHINGTON - The rate of close calls on airport runways is up over last year and the risk of a collision is high, a US investigator said yesterday.
Gerald Dillingham, the Government Accountability Office's top expert on aviation safety, told a House panel that even though the Federal Aviation Administration "has given a higher priority to runway safety" there were 24 of the most serious kinds of runway incursions - defined as an event in which any aircraft, vehicle, or person intrudes in space reserved for takeoff or landing - in fiscal 2008. That's the same number of serious incursions as last year. But since air traffic operations have declined this year, the rate of serious incidents - measured by number of incidents per 1 million takeoffs and landings - increased 5 percent.
The rate of all types of runway incursions - ranging from near collisions to minor incidents - was 6.72 in the first three quarters of 2008, up 10 percent, Dillingham said.
FAA chief operating officer Hank Krakowski said the agency has made "solid progress." He said the 24 serious incidents in 2007 were down from a high of 53 in 2001.