House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica Calls For FAA To
Address The Safety Issue
A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office
(GAO) raises concerns about the increasing number of runway safety
incidents at U.S. airports, according to the House Transportation
According to the GAO, the rate of runway incursions and
operational errors in the terminal environment (within roughly 30
miles of an airport) has increased dramatically over the last three
years. The report finds that in that time:
The rate of airborne operational errors in the terminal area
nearly doubled, increasing 97%.
The rate of operational errors in the TRACON environment more
than doubled, increasing 166%.
The rate of operational errors in the tower environment
increased by 53%.
The rate of the most severe airborne operational errors more
“The increase in runway safety incidents raises
significant concerns,” said Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) in a news release.
“FAA must continue to address this safety issue. We have also
requested the Department of Transportation Inspector General to
examine runway safety issues and report back to Congress, and in
light of these results from the GAO, the Aviation Subcommittee will
also convene a roundtable to examine these persisting safety issues
which seem to have gotten worse in recent years.”
“Airlines and FAA controllers alike share credit for the
safety record we enjoy today. However, the recent uptick in near
miss events is a precursor to tragedy and the Federal Aviation
Administration must improve its performance in this area,”
said Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Thomas E. Petri. “Our
reauthorization proposal directs the FAA to develop a runway safety
plan and directs the FAA to remain accountable for tracking and
addressing safety events. Accountability is crucial for FAA
officials to address this safety hazard in an appropriately
The FAA collects official data on these types of safety incidents
into a system known as the Air Traffic Quality Assurance (ATQA)
database. FAA is also implementing additional safety reporting
systems to supplement the data collected in ATQA. GAO suggests that
the implementation of the new supplemental reporting systems may
actually mean the ATQA numbers reported are lower than they
otherwise could have been, since incidents reported into another
system are not likely to be reported more than once.
According to the report, technologies aimed at improving automated
incident reporting have not yet been fully implemented.
Furthermore, FAA does not have comprehensive risk-based data the
sophisticated databases to integrate incident data from multiple
sources. “As a result, aviation officials managing risk using
safety management systems… have limited – if any
– access to FAA incident data,” according to GAO.