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Runway Incidents Down Just a Little

WASHINGTON (AP) — Incidents of airplanes or vehicles interfering with each other on airport runways declined last year — but only a little — after climbing steadily for five years.

The Federal Aviation Administration recorded 322 incidents in 1999, just three less than the year before.

With 10 incidents, called incursions, Los Angeles International had the highest total. But it ranked 21st in the country in incidents per 100,000 operations, with a rate of 1.285.

An operation is either a takeoff or landing. An incursion is an incident involving a collision hazard at an airport, but not involving an actual crash.

The highest rate of incursions was recorded by the Springfield, Ill., airport at 4.799, though it had just four incidents.

A majority of incursions last year, 182, were listed as mistakes on the part of pilots and two-thirds of those involved private pilots, not commercial airliners, FAA spokesman William Shumann said.

Airports with higher rates tended to be ones with more flights by private pilots rather than busy commercial airports.

In addition to pilot errors, 80 incursions were attributed to air traffic control errors and 60 to vehicles or pedestrians on runways.

In March, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey launched a new effort to reduce the number of incursions, which had grown since 186 were recorded in 1993.

She announced a series of regional meetings across the country where airlines, airport officials, commercial and private pilots, air traffic controllers could meet to discuss ways to reduce these incidents.

A one-year effort began to get pilots who have been involved in incidents to meet with FAA safety inspectors to discuss the case.

Currently, 34 large airports use downward-looking radar called ASDE to keep track of the movement of planes and vehicles on their runways and taxiways.

A new system called Airport Movement Area Safety System is scheduled to go into operation this year. It will sound a warning alarm if planes or vehicles appear on a collision course. AMASS will begin service in San Francisco in September and be in the 34 largest airports by the fall of 2002.

Following Springfield the top five airports in rate of incursions per 100,000 operations last year were Fargo, N.D., 4.278; Palm Springs, Calif., 3.910; Boise, Idaho, 3.318 and Providence, R.I., 3,187.


The nation's airports recorded 322 incidents of close calls between planes or planes and vehicles on the ground last year, the Federal Aviation Administration reports. A list of the airports with the highest rate of incursions per 100,000 operations and their total incidents.

Airport Total Rate

Springfield, Ill. 4 4.799

Fargo, N.D. 4 4.278

Palm Springs, Calif. 4 3.910

Boise, Idaho 6 3.318

Providence, R.I. 5 3.187

Lincoln, Neb. 4 3.164

San Juan, P.R. 6 2.952

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 5 2.211

Crystal, Minn. 4 2.111

Flying Cloud, Minn. 4 2.083

Farmingdale, N.Y. 5 2.082

Santa Ana, Calif. 9 1.925

Chicago Midway 5 1.835

San Diego, Mont Fld 5 1.833

Tulsa, Okla. 5 1.818

Daytona Beach, Fla. 6 1.639

San Antonio, Texas 4 1.561

New York Kennedy 5 1.403

St. Louis 7 1.388

San Francisco 8 1.365

Los Angeles 10 1.285

Long Beach, Calif. 6 1.198

Salt Lake City 4 1.079

Las Vegas 5 0.928

Seattle 4 0.924

Centennial, Colo. 4 0.908

Dallas-Fort Worth 7 0.804

Atlanta 6 0.661

Chicago O'Hare 5 0.554

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