NTSB Seeks Runway Alert Equipment on All Aircraft

 - October 1, 2018, 12:51 PM

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling on the FAA to require installation of alert systems on all aircraft that would warn pilots flying into primary airports that their aircraft are not lined up with a runway surface or the intended runway. The recommendation stemmed from the July 7, 2017 incident in which an Air Canada A320 lined up on a parallel taxiway while on approach into San Francisco. The crew initiated a go-around but had come within 100 feet of one aircraft lined up on the taxiway and 60 feet of another.

As a result, the NTSB found that “flight safety would be enhanced if airplanes landing at primary airports within Class B and C airspace were equipped with a cockpit system that provided flight crews with positional awareness information that is independent of, and dissimilar from, the current instrument landing system backup capability for navigating to a runway.”

However, in his first official board meeting on an aircraft accident, newly confirmed vice chairman Bruce Landsberg highlighted a need for supporting data into applying general findings on additional equipment to general aviation.

The former long-time head of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, Landsberg suggested an amendment to limit the finding’s threshold to 12,500 pounds. He said he believed the finding was a “bit broad” to include light general aviation in the recommendations. “Do we have data to support it? I have not seen any.”

But that amendment was withdrawn after facing objections from other board members. New member and long-time Senate staff member Jennifer Homendy, who joined the board about the same time as Landsberg, pointed to FAA data that 85 percent of wrong-surface landings involve general aviation and noted a need for data supporting the 12,500-pound threshold.

NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt added, “I do not believe that this agency should be concerned with a burden to the industry….Our concern should be what are the factors in the event.”