The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded at least $121m to airports around the US in order to reduce the risk of runway incursions in what it calls “the safest aviation system in the world”.
The investment followed a March 2023 safety summit conducted in response to a number of safety accidents, most of which involved aircraft being too close together during takeoff or landing.
The funding will provide safety measures including the reconfiguration of taxiways that may cause confusion and the installation of new lighting systems.
Sites set to benefit from the funding include $44.9m for Boston Logan International (BOS) and $39.8m for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), both of which are set to simplify airfield layout and maximise operational output.
As reported by Reuters, the FAA said on Tuesday it will hold runway safety meetings at 90 airports over the next few weeks after a series of “troubling” close-call aviation incidents.
Shannetta Griffin, P.E. Associate Administrator for Airports, said: “The FAA is serious about ending runway incursions and we are putting substantial resources behind our efforts. In some cases, the best way to address safety risks is modifying or reconfiguring existing airfields – these grants directly address those situations.”
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The FAA funding promise follows a report by the New York Times, based on FAA safety reports, highlighting incidents that are recorded as a result of “human error.”
According to the New York Times, the close calls recorded by the FAA, which include 46 recorded in July 2023 alone, have involved all major US airlines and have happened nationwide.
The Times added that “while there have been no major US plane crashes for over a decade, potentially dangerous incidents are occurring far more frequently than almost anyone realises.”
According to the study, the most “acute problem” is the understaffing of national air traffic control facilities, which contributes to the severity of the close-call situation.
Elsewhere, the FAA announced the employment of 1,500 air traffic controllers and how they reached their 2023 objective of restoring its training pipeline.
The FAA added that the COVID-19 outbreak led it to close its academy for six months in 2020 and halt on-the-job training at sites for nearly two years.