Release #07.067
December 6, 2007

Ending Runway Incursions is Within Reach
Congress Must Provide FAA with Funds

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Capt. Terry McVenes, Executive Air Safety Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), issued the following statement after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report today outlining the state of runway incursion prevention.

“Runway incursions occur more frequently at the nation’s busiest airports, but they can happen anywhere in the air transportation system. To meet an industry-wide challenge, we need an industry-wide solution that leverages every airline industry stakeholder to make an extremely safe mode of transportation even safer. The FAA has a role to play, along with airlines, airports, air traffic controllers, and pilots.

“The FAA held a ‘Call to Action’ industry symposium on runway incursion prevention this past summer. ALPA was pleased to participate and to see unanimous agreement across all sectors of the aviation industry on many strategies to safeguard against runway incursions. While much work remains, many of the good ideas that came out of that meeting have already become a reality. They have no doubt prevented runway incursions already.

“Although runway incursions are a serious safety risk, we know a lot about the causes and solutions. Most incursions occur because of a loss of situational awareness. Worker fatigue often exacerbates that lack of situational awareness. In response to pilot fatigue, ALPA has created a Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel to review the subject and make recommendations for ALPA to address this serious safety and quality-of-life concern.

“The good news is that a wide range of tools exist to make runways safer right now by enhancing situational awareness. In some cases, a simple can of paint could make runways safer by creating signs that are easier for pilots and others to recognize. Enhanced taxiway centerline markings and holding position surface signs are now adopted as the standard for the nation’s largest commercial airports. The FAA recommends that airports implement the new markings and signs by 2008, but ALPA urges airports with commercial service to put these low-cost fixes in place as soon as possible.

“Runway status lights are another tool that can make runways safer. Runway status lights are simply red ‘stop signs’ that illuminate when the runway is unsafe to enter because traffic may be landing or taking off. The lights are already at work improving safety at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and could be used at many more locations.

“Technology is another key to many long-term solutions that will give pilots and others the right information to eliminate incursion risks. We can create a safety net designed to make runway incursions a thing of the past by layering technologies such as moving map displays and Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to allow pilots to know the location of other traffic; automatic runway occupancy alerts to let pilots know whether runways are occupied; and digital data link clearances to create faster, more-reliable and more-accurate clearances.

“While every stakeholder in the airline industry must play its role, providing FAA with the needed resources is essential. ALPA calls on Congress to act quickly to pass the FAA reauthorization bill, which provides the FAA with the funding to make our nation’s runways as safe as possible for passengers, crews, and cargo.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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Contacts: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703/481-4440 or