After repeated close calls, FAA holding a runway safety meeting

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it will be conducting runway safety meetings at 90 airports in the coming weeks due to several worrying aviation incidents. Recently, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation into a near collision between a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 and a Cessna Citation 560X business jet in San Diego. The NTSB is also currently investigating seven runway incursion events that have occurred since January, including the San Diego incident. In response to these incidents, the FAA stated in March that it was taking steps to improve its air traffic control operations, acknowledging that too many close calls have been reported.


The FAA has scheduled "Runway Safety Action Team" meetings to take place until the end of September. These meetings will bring together representatives from various organizations, including the FAA's air traffic organization, airlines, pilots, airport vehicle drivers, and more. Their goal is to identify unique risks to surface safety at each airport and develop plans to mitigate or eliminate those risks.

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As of April 2022, the FAA has been without a permanent administrator. President Joe Biden's nominee to head the agency, Phil Washington, withdrew in March, and a new nominee has yet to be chosen. Polly Trottenberg, the Deputy Transportation Secretary, has been serving as acting FAA administrator in addition to her USDOT duties since June.

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The FAA's preliminary review of the August 11th incident in San Diego revealed that an air traffic controller had cleared the Cessna to land even though Southwest Airlines Flight 2493 had already been instructed to taxi onto the same runway and await further instruction to depart. A similar incident occurred in February in Austin, Texas, when a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Boeing 737 came within about 115 feet (35 meters) of each other in poor visibility conditions. The controller had cleared the FedEx plane to land and the Southwest plane to depart. In response to these incidents, the FAA held a safety summit and issued a safety alert in March to airlines, pilots, and others, emphasizing the importance of continued vigilance and attention to safety risks.

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