National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Yesterday's runway incursion incident between two Boeing 737's at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport underscores the need for immediate action by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prevent these potentially catastrophic events. The Safety Board has expressed concern repeatedly over the large number of runway incursions in recent years. We have issued more than 100 recommendations since 1973, and have placed this issue on our Most Wanted List annually since 1990.
Last summer we issued six additional safety recommendations. Foremost among these was a recommendation that the FAA implement a ground movement safety system that would prevent runway incursions and would provide a direct warning to flight crews. The FAA is implementing an Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) which generates audible and visual alerts of possible collisions to air traffic controllers, not to pilots. Furthermore, only two of those systems have been commissioned for full operational use at airports.
Our other five recommendations from last summer addressed operational issues, such as requiring separate clearances for each runway crossing; discontinuing the holding of aircraft on active runways at night or in periods of poor visibility; and using the standard internationally-understood ICAO phraseology for air traffic control. The FAA has not implemented any of these recommendations.
We are aware that the FAA has taken numerous actions to reduce runway incursions: continuous safety briefings; improved signage; painted runway markings all are helpful but the number of runway incursions is not diminishing. We believe that awareness and education are important, but in a system as complex as air traffic control, human mistakes are unavoidable.
The Safety Board recommendations are intended to build in redundancies to compensate for the inevitable lapses in human performance. We urge the FAA to implement effective measures immediately to minimize the impact of human errors before an accident or incident occurs, and to assure that the air traffic environment is as safe as the public has a right to expect.
NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.