FAA Acting Head Calls for Elimination of Near-Miss Incidents Amid Safety Concerns and Staffing Shortages

WASHINGTON — Billy Nolen, the acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), emphasized on Tuesday the need for the aviation industry to work towards eliminating near-miss incidents that have raised safety concerns recently.


Nolen stated that the only acceptable number for serious incidents and close calls is zero. Six significant runway incursions since January led the FAA to hold a safety summit earlier this month.

At an industry meeting in Baltimore, Nolen highlighted the resurgence of air travel after the pandemic and the possible impact of long layoffs and increased technical complexity on professionals' skills.

Last week, the FAA announced plans to enhance air traffic control operations, with Tim Arel, COO of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, acknowledging the issue of too many close calls.

The FAA issued a safety alert on Wednesday, urging continued vigilance and risk mitigation. Last month, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy reported a near-collision between a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines plane.

Also Read: FAA Urges Industry Action after Runway Close Calls, Calls for Vigilance

As the FAA faces an air traffic control staffing shortage, it seeks funding for more hires. Rich Santa, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, noted a decrease of 1,200 certified air traffic controllers compared to a decade ago.

To address summer congestion, the FAA will temporarily reduce minimum flight requirements for airlines to maintain take-off and landing slots at busy New York City-area airports and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The FAA will also hold a meeting on New York-area air traffic issues.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines received approval from the FAA to temporarily return up to 10% of slots and flights at these airports.


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