The FAA yesterday convened its Runway Safety Council, a new joint government-industry body chartered to literally tear down the current runway safety culture and take a deep, systemic approach to improving runway safety and move toward a proactive management strategy that involves different segments of the aviation industry.
The council includes representatives from the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Air Transport Association, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Airports Council International, the AOPA, the National Association of Flight Instructors, the NBAA and the Air Taxi Association.
The FAA believes a coordinated, systemic approach is necessary because serious runway incursions are seldom caused by a single factor, but the existing safety culture separates responsibility for incursions into discrete categories Operational errors by controllers, pilot deviations or vehicle or pedestrian deviations.
Investigations into incidents are currently conducted by different parts of the agency, depending on the category of the incident.
The FAA intends the council to play a lead role in resolving critical surface safety issues with participating entities dedicating resources such as subject matter experts and analysts to a team that will examine the root causes of runway incursions. The Root Cause Analysis Team will investigate incidents from a systems perspective, getting input from airports, operators and air traffic.
One focus will be on how human factors contribute to runway incursions and what can be done to reduce human errors. The Root Cause Analysis Team will analyze and attempt to resolve issues in a positive, non-punitive environment. The team will recommend to the council ways to resolve or mitigate system risks. If the council supports the recommendations, it will work with different parts of the FAA to address what needs to be done, and track progress toward a solution of the problem.