FAA calls on airline industry to take action following series of close calls

·2 min read

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called on the airline industry to take a series of steps on Wednesday in response to several incidents of airplanes almost hitting each other this year.

The FAA said in a release that it issued a safety alert for airlines, pilots and others to take action following the close calls. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has recognized that an “uptick in serious close calls” has happened at airports throughout the country this year.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board have confirmed at least seven close calls have happened during 2023, and Buttigieg said a total of more than 20 might happen by the end of the year.

The safety alert lists five major steps that members of the airline industry should take to try to minimize the number of incidents in the future.

The agency said airline should ensure pilots and flight attendants have the same understanding of “sterile flight deck,” which means that a pilot should not have unnecessary communication that is unrelated to fulfilling their responsibilities during key parts of the flight like takeoff and landing.

The FAA also said airlines should emphasize the need for awareness of aircrafts in relation to taxiways, runways and other aircrafts and encourage staff to “identify and report existing and emerging safety issues” through the existing reporting programs.

The agency also said airlines should reinforce pilots and flight attendants following the published processes like checklists, air traffic control instructions and internal company procedures and ensure that safety management systems, the official approach to managing the safety risks of flights, account for a rapidly changing industry.

Some of the close calls included one incident at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City in January where a flight needed to abort its takeoff as another flight crossed the same runway. Another one of the seven happened earlier this month at Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport when a flight crossed a runway without authorization and blocked another flight that was cleared for takeoff.

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