DALLAS — To help decrease runway incursions, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted more than US$100m to 12 airports across the nation. The funding comes from several sources, including the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
According to the FAA release, projects will “reconfigure taxiways that may cause confusion, install airfield lighting or construct new taxiways to provide more flexibility on the airfield.”
To identify airports with risk factors that could lead to runway incursions, the agency developed the Runway Incursion Mitigation Program (RIM). These elements comprise complexity and airfield configuration. The FAA, airports, and industry collaborate to identify problems and share best practices as part of the RIM program.
Funding is going to the following projects (ad verbum):
- Miami International Airport: US$6m to shift one taxiway (L1) and fix the intersection of two other taxiways (M & Q).
- Harry Reid International Airport: US$13.4m to reconfigure four taxiways (U, E, F and H) to meet safety standards, shift two runways (8L/26R and 1L/19R) and install runway status and guard lights. Runway status lights alert pilots and others if it is not safe to enter the runway.
- San Diego International Airport: US$24m to construct a new taxiway (A), eliminating the need for aircraft to back-taxi on the runway.
- Tucson International Airport: US$33.1m to construct a taxiway (C) and shift and rebuild runway (11R/29L) to be further away from a parallel runway.
- Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport: US$10.8m to build a taxiway (V) to provide more direct access to aircraft hangars.
- Pensacola International Airport: US$1.17m to install runway guard lights for Runways 8/26 and 17/35 to address safety issues identified by a Runway Safety Action Team.
- Prescott International Airport in Prescott, Ariz.: US$7.4m to shift a taxiway (C) 75 feet east.
- Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield, Ill.: US$7.4m to remove portions of Runway 18 and Runway 36 and extend a taxiway (G) to maintain access to the existing north apron.
- Bellingham International Airport in Bellingham, Wash.: US$1.3m to reconfigure a connecting taxiway (F) from its current airfield location to a new midfield connector.
- Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y.: US$12.4m to reconstruct a taxiway (A), add a taxiway edge lighting system and replace existing airfield guidance signs.
- Waverly Municipal Airport in Waverly, Iowa: US$223,000 to construct a parallel taxiway from the Runway 11 turnaround to the apron, eliminating the need for aircraft to back-taxi on the runway.
- Charles B Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Kan.: US$844,000 for two parallel taxiways (L and D) to Runway 3 to eliminate the need for aircraft to back-taxi on the runway.
FAA Safety Summit
In the first water of 2023, there were six different close calls involving commercial aircraft that were investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Five close calls occurred at airports, and one occurred over the Pacific Ocean.
In March, the FAA held a Safety Summit to address recent incidence. Airlines, flight and ground crews, and air traffic control gathered to find potential causes and needed actions to uphold safety. You can read more about the summit and actions the agency has taken since then.
Following the Summit, U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg undertook an airport safety tour to highlight airport improvements that had received federal funding in North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The FAA also mentioned it introduced a number of runway safety technologies to give pilots and controllers better situational awareness.
- Runway Status Lights: The in-pavement lights alert pilots that entering a runway is unsafe due to other traffic on or approaching the runway.
- Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X): A surveillance system using radar, multilateration and satellite technology that allows air traffic controllers to track surface movement of aircraft and vehicles. It or its sister system, Airport Surface Surveillance Capability, is located at the country’s 43 largest airports.
- ASDE-X Taxiway Arrival Prediction: Predicts when a pilot lines up to land on a taxiway and provides a visual and audible alert to controllers.
The investment from the FAA comes at a time when the aviation body is undergoing a shift in its management and operations.
Last month, Acting Administrator Billy Nolen said he was stepping down this summer after just over a year on the job, raising questions about the direction of the agency as it grapples with challenges from flight safety and aging technology to congestion in the skies.
Featured image: Chris Goulet/Airways