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Actions Needed To Improve Runway Safety

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On February 13, 2008, the Inspector General testified on actions needed to improve runway safety before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. The Inspector General noted that aviation stakeholders are expressing growing concerns regarding the rise in severe runway incidents and that runway incursions pose a significant threat to runway safety. Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken decisive actions to reduce runway incursions, serious close calls involving commercial aircraft continue to occur. Because runway incursions can be caused by controllers, pilots, or ground vehicles, responsibility for their prevention falls on all users of the National Airspace System--FAA, airlines, and airport operators. Over the last 10 years, the Office of Inspector General has reported on a range of actions needed to enhance the margin of safety on the Nation's runways. The Inspector General's testimony emphasized four areas where FAA and other aviation users should focus runway safety efforts: (1) implementing existing and new FAA systems to alert controllers and pilots to potential runway incursions; (2) making airport-specific infrastructure and procedural changes, such as improved runway signage and markings; (3) reinvigorating FAA's national program for improving runway safety and identifying and correcting root causes of runway incursions; and (4) addressing controller human factors issues, such as fatigue and attention, through improved training.