FAA to Review Internal Safety Data Following Several Runway Incidents

The decision to launch a review comes after several close calls in recent weeks.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to hold an industry safety summit following several near misses of planes in the United States. 

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said the agency would review internal incident data and shouldn’t take safety for granted, according to a memo sent to his senior management team and reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday. Nolen did not mention specific safety incidents in the memo.

plane on tarmac

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“Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent,” he wrote in the memo. “Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions.”

The decision to launch a review comes after several close calls in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it would investigate a Dec. 18 incident in which a United Airlines plane headed to San Francisco dove in altitude shortly after taking off from Maui before recovering.

Following that, an American Airlines flight crossed a runway without clearance from air traffic control at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, forcing a Delta Air Lines flight to abort its takeoff on that same runway on Jan. 13, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report. The American pilots have since refused to take part in taped interviews, according to the Washington Post.

And on Feb 4, an air traffic controller cleared a FedEx cargo jet to land on a runway at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport where a Southwest Airlines flight had also been cleared to take off. As a result, the planes came within 100 feet of each other, according to the Washington Post.

The NTSB is investigating that incident as well.

The safety review also comes weeks after an FAA computer outage led to a nationwide grounding of flights in January. Since then, the agency has taken steps to avoid a future recurrence, including requiring at least two people to be present during the maintenance of the agency’s Notice to Air Missions system, which was involved in the outage.

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