Rep. Carey demands answers from Buttigieg on near-collisions at airports

Rep. Carey demands answers from Buttigieg on near-collisions at airports

Rep. Mike Carey, R-Ohio, is demanding answers from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the 'disturbing' number of Near-Collisions reported at airports nationwide this year.

The safety summit prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to hold a safety summit in March and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce safety risks at airports, said John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and in Austin, Texas, and off the coast of Hawaii.

A New York Times report in August found 46 near-collisions at airports in July alone, a figure Carey called part of a larger trend in a letter sent Tuesday to Buttigieg.

The FAA data shows that more than 300 runway encounters through Sept. 11, 2023 were near-collisions between commercial airplanes, Carey said.

Carey asked for the Department of Transportation to show an unwavering commitment to aircraft safety by making every effort possible to eliminate near-collisions altogether, and asked Buttigieg for specifics on how the Biden administration is responding to airport close calls.

Traffic Collison avoidance systems on commercial aircraft, surface safety technology at major U.S. airports and 'robust' air traffic procedures each contribute to safe travel by air, the agency said.

In February, former FAA administrator Billy Nolen established a safety review team to examine the reliability of the nation's air traffic system.

A month later, Nolen, who has been replaced by Polly Trottenberg, held a safety summit where more than 200 safety leaders from the aerospace industry discussed ways to enhance flight safety.

The FAA has taken steps to help eliminate the close calls.

In April, the FAA named an independent safety review team to recommend improvements to air traffic safety, a review report due in October.

The FAA has also spent over $100 million to reduce runway emissions at 12 airports across the nation, including projects to reconfigure taxiways that may cause confusion, install more lighting or construct new taxiways for greater flexibility on the airfield.

Last month, the FAA announced a series of Runway Safety Action Team meetings at 90 major airports through September. At these meetings, the FAA and airport representatives work to identify unique airport-specific risks and develop plans to mitigate or eliminate them. The people involved in these discussions include representatives from the FAA Air Traffic Organization, airlines, pilots and airport vehicle drivers, the agency said.

In August, the FAA spent another $121 million to mitigate the risk of close calls at airports.

Since this effort began, total runway incursions have surged from 408 at the end of the first quarter in March to 480 at the end of the third quarter in June. However, total incursions have decreased so far in the fourth quarter to 361 as of Sept. 15, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg will testify at a hearing on the Department of Transportation oversight hearing at 10:50 a.m. ET on Wednesday, when he is expected to face questions from lawmakers on the FAA's efforts to make airports more safe.