The Department of Transportation's inspector general is starting an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration's handling of runway incursions in recent months.
The audit comes months after the National Transportation Safety Board announced an investigation into six recent incidents where planes have nearly collided on the runways of commercial airports.
The inspector general's audit will consist of two facets: processes for analyzing data and identifying risks associated with runway incursions; and actions for preventing and mitigating runway incursions at primary commercial service airports.
Noted in the inspector general's announcement were incidents at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport.
The FAA has announced three different steps to address runway incursions:
- Formed a safety review team focusing on the U.S. aerospace system’s runway safety efforts
- Held a safety summit in March 2023 with aviation industry stakeholders
- Called for re-examining runway incursion data to identify similar serious runway incursions and indications of emerging trends
"These events should serve as a wake-up call," NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said in May. "The sobering truth is that it only takes one. Any of these events could’ve had devastating consequences, could’ve led to tragedy, to more bereaved families."
Government officials have placed some of the blame on a shortage of air traffic controllers. In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said about 3,000 additional operators are needed to fill vacancies.
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