Release 08.005
February 13, 2008

Airline Pilots Challenge Congress to Make Airports Safer

WASHINGTON—Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), asked members of Congress today to remedy runway incursions and other airport safety issues facing America’s airline industry by increasing funding for the National Airspace System (NAS) modernization effort.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) adopted the runway incursion definition of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in October 2007. ICAO defines the term as “any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing, and takeoff, of aircraft.” Runway incursions have increased in relation with the number of operations.

“The runway incursion risk is real and growing larger as our National Airspace System is pushed to the max,” said Prater. “The FAA categorizes this risk as ‘unacceptable’; we agree, but today I’m taking it a step further. This rate of occurrence is inexcusable.”

According to the FAA, during the last three months of 2007, an average of 2.5 runway incursions happened every day in the U.S., even though dozens of experts in several different countries have studied this risk and devised mitigations that can greatly lessen its presence in ground operations.

In fact, according to the U.S. Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), the risk can be reduced by as much as 95 percent with the implementation of new technologies, training, and operational techniques that increase pilots’ and air traffic controllers’ situational awareness. Paired with simple solutions, such as improving runway and taxiway markings with a can of paint, these mitigations can make a big impact.

“The U.S. government and aviation industry started implementing the CAST recommendations more than five years ago,” said Prater. “But it’s just not enough to keep up with the increasing air traffic in this country. If Congress intends to safely move more passengers and cargo while maintaining our sterling safety record, then Congress needs to make modernizing our National Airspace System a priority.”

For more information about runway incursions and possible solutions, visit the “Hold Short for Runway Safety” website.

To read Captain Prater’s oral testimony, click here.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 60,000 pilots at 43 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the website:

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