The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded more than $100 million to 12 airports across the country to fund projects that reduce runway incursions. Those projects will reconfigure taxiways, install airfield lighting, or construct new taxiways to provide more flexibility on the airfield, the agency said.
[Above photo by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority]
That funding comes from several sources, including the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program and Runway Incursion Mitigation or RIM program, as well as the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.
“Some airfields have complex layouts that can create confusion for pilots and other airport users,” noted FAA Associate Administrator Shannetta Griffin in a statement. “This funding will reconfigure complex taxiway and runway intersections to help prevent incursions and enhance the safety of the National Airspace System.”
The agency said it developed its RIM program to identify airports that have risk factors that might contribute to runway incursions, such as taxiway complexity and airfield layout. As part of the RIM program, the FAA, airports and industry work together to find solutions and share best practices.
[Editor’s note: On May 23, the National Transportation Safety Board held a ‘State of Runway Incursions’ roundtable due to a recent increase in such incidents, with the agency opening investigations into six incursion events since the start of 2023 alone. You read the remarks of NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy at that roundtable by clicking here.]
In March, the FAA held a Safety Summit to address recent incidents. The summit brought together leaders from across the aviation sector, including airlines, flight and ground crews, and air traffic control, to find potential causes and needed actions to uphold safety.
The FAA has also introduced several runway safety technologies to provide pilots and controllers increased 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, satellite, and other technologies in combination to allow 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.