Friday, October 14, 2011

Airplanes too close for comfort

2 planes coming in for a landing at San Francisco International Airport. Photo by Jose P Isern Comas
WASHINGTON – The Government Accountability Office is sounding an alarm about planes – not just the air but also on the ground – that have come close to hitting one another.
The GAO acknowledges that the nation’s aviation system is arguably the safest in the world. But says close calls involving aircraft or other vehicles at or near airports are common, occurring almost daily.
The Federal Aviation Administration provides oversight of the terminal area and has taken action to improve safety. But, the GAO notes, the FAA is still being pressured by the National Transportation Safety Board and to take additional steps to improve its oversight. The GAO report concurs.
The report recommends that the FAA extend oversight of terminal area safety to include runway overruns and ramp areas and that it develop risk-based measures for runway safety incidents. It also suggests that the FAA improve information sharing about incidents.

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