GAO Raps FAA over Runway Incursions

 - December 6, 2007, 11:35 AM

Per a request by House aviation subcommittee chairman Jerry Costello, the Government Accountability Office yesterday issued a report on runway safety, and the results don’t paint the FAA in the best of light. The GAO did give the FAA points for reducing the more serious Category A and B incursions, in which a collision was narrowly averted, to a record low of 24 this year. However, the GAO said even this amount is still enough to pose “a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision.” Overall, runway incursions appear to be edging closer to the peak in 2001 of 407 events, or 6.1 per million ATC operations. In FY2007 there were 370 incursions, a rate of 6.05 per million ATC operations. The report also cited controller fatigue as contributing to the runway incursion risk, and the GAO found that, as of May, at least 20 percent of the controllers at 25 ATC facilities were regularly working six-day weeks. Additionally, the GAO faulted Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X)–technology intended to reduce incursions–for cost increases, schedule delays and operational difficulties.