The head of the 14,000-member air traffic controllers union said last month that the FAA is trumpeting the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) to mask poor morale and severe staffing shortages among its controller workforce.
In a report released in late May, the Transportation Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said the FAA has made “significant progress” in reducing runway incursions compared to five years ago. But it cautioned that the serious risks associated with runway incursions underscore the need for maintaining vigilant oversight and a proactive approach to preventing severe accidents.
NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker told the House aviation subcommittee last month that his agency is disappointed in the FAA’s response to five of the six aviation items on the Safety Board’s Most Wanted List of safety improvements.
NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker said the FAA’s airport movement area safety system (AMASS) is not adequate to prevent serious runway collisions. Citing several recent near-collisions at Boston and New York airports where AMASS allegedly did not perform, Rosenker noted that the situations were instead resolved by flight crew actions sometimes bordering on the heroic–and luck.
The investigation report of the October 2001 runway collision between a taxiing Citation CJ2 and a Scandinavian Airlines MD-87 taking off at the Linate Airport at Milan, Italy, is quite revealing.
The FAA placed production orders for 11 of Sensis’ airport surface detection equipment systems, Model X (ASDE-X). This requisition is in addition to the 21 initial systems ordered in December 2002. The production option for the 11 ASDE-X systems, in addition to associated hardware, software and support, is worth approximately $35 million.
The NTSB expressed disappointment last month over the FAA’s alleged foot-dragging on several safety recommendations, and the safety agency changed the classifications of the FAA’s responses from “acceptable” to “unacceptable.”
Three serious near collisions on runways in Boston, New York and Las Vegas this year have prompted the NTSB to again press for quicker action by the FAA to reduce such incidents. This issue has been on the Safety Board’s “most wanted” list since its inception in 1990.
Air traffic controllers at Canada’s Ottawa International Airport can now “see” traffic on the airport surface in the southwest area of the airport using a computer vision-based airport surface detection (ASD) system installed by Searidge Technologies. The Searidge system detects aircraft, vehicles, people and other objects using a network of digital-imaging sensors coupled to computer-vision technology.
While speakers at the Air Traffic Control Association’s annual convention in Washington in October discussed a wide range of ATC technologies, both current and future, several presentations touched on a common underlying theme: where will the money come from?