WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted over $100 million to 12 US airports for projects aimed at decreasing runway intrusions. 

Announced on May 22, these projects encompass taxiway reconfigurations, airfield lighting enhancements, and the construction of new taxiways to increase airfield adaptability.

Earlier this year, the FAA faced criticism following several narrowly averted accidents during ground operations. For instance, on January 13, an American Airlines Boeing 777 operating a flight to London-Heathrow crossed an active runway just as a Delta Air Lines aircraft began its takeoff. Quick action by controllers halted the Delta flight's takeoff, preventing a potentially catastrophic collision.

Subsequently, on February 4 in Austin, Texas, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 was cleared for departure from the same runway that a FedEx Boeing 767-300ER Freighter had been authorized to land on. The FedEx plane descended to a height of 150ft above ground before aborting its approach.

These and other incidents spurred the FAA to convene a Safety Summit on March 15, calling on stakeholders to discuss methods to enhance aviation safety, particularly during ground operations. So far in 2023, the FAA has recorded 621 runway intrusions, while in 2022, the FAA logged 1,696 runway intrusions.

Shannetta Griffin, FAA Associate Administrator, commented that certain airfields possess complicated designs that may confuse pilots and other airport users. She said, "This funding will reconfigure complex taxiway and runway intersections to help prevent incursions and enhance the safety of the National Airspace System."

Among the airports slated to receive the additional funding are Miami International, Harry Reid International in Las Vegas, San Diego International, Tucson International, and Pensacola International.

The FAA's runway incursion mitigation program was launched in 2015 with the goal of identifying airports with risk factors potentially leading to runway intrusions, such as taxiway complexity and airfield layout. According to the FAA, funding for the airport enhancements comes from various sources, including the agency's airport improvement program and the bipartisan infrastructure law.