(Bloomberg) -- The US Federal Aviation Administration is taking the first step toward mandating cockpit-alerting technologies to reduce the risk of runway mishaps.
The agency announced Friday it has requested recommendations from an advisory panel on technology to keep flight crews from landing or taking off from the wrong runway or taxiway.
“As we conduct this critical safety work, it is important to further consider how human factors also contribute to these events since alert technologies are only part of the solution to mitigating incursion and loss of separation,” the agency said in a letter to the advisory panel.
The new technology is designed to prevent incidents such as a 2017 case in San Francisco in which an Air Canada jet missed multiple aircraft by as little as 20 feet (6 meters) after pilots mistakenly almost landed on a taxiway. The National Transportation Safety Board had recommended such technology after its investigation.
One of the few fatal US crashes in recent decades occurred when a Comair Inc. flight in 2006 attempted to take off on a runway in Lexington, Kentucky that was too short. The jet clipped trees and crashed, killing 49.
The agency has said it’ll conduct mandatory training for air-traffic controllers to address a spike in serious near-collisions on airport runways. The action followed a safety alert prompted by the runway close calls, where regulators called on air operators to remind employees of existing rules.
The new technology would help improve runway safety, but isn’t designed to address a recent spate of near collisions between planes on landing strips. The FAA has separate technology to address those incidents, but it is only installed at 43 large airports and has been prone to breakdowns.
Several major airports, including Reagan National Airport near Washington and Boston Logan International, are expected to receive millions of dollars from regulators as part of the effort to reduce collision scares.
Meanwhile, the agency has been operating without a confirmed leader. President Joe Biden nominated Michael Whitaker, former deputy administrator for the FAA, to take over the agency, more than a year after the previous leader resigned.
--With assistance from Alan Levin.
(Adds reference to Comair crash in fifth paragraph.)
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