SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE INCREASING NUMBER OF MISHAPS ON OUR NATION'S RUNWAYS
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 13, 1997
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
FRANK RIGGS, California
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JACK METCALF, Washington
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
JAY W. JOHNSON, Wisconsin
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
Subcommittee on Aviation
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee, Chairman
ROY BLUNT, Missouri Vice Chairman
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
JACK METCALF, Washington
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Hall, Jim, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board, accompanied by James Danaher, Chief, Operational Factors Division, Office of Aviation Safety
Jolly, Gary, President and CEO, SAFEGATE Group
Kucinich, Hon. Dennis J., a Representative in Congress from Ohio
Landsberg, Bruce, Executive Director, AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mead, Kenneth M., Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation
Moore, Capt. Mack, Chairman, Airport Standards Committee, Air Line Pilots Association, accompanied by John O'Brien, Director, Engineering and Safety Department
Morgan, Ronald E., Director of Air Traffic, Federal Aviation Administration
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Mead, Kenneth M
Moore, Capt. Mack
Morgan, Ronald E
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Jolly, Gary, President and CEO, SAFEGATE Group, transcript of video
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Landsberg, Bruce, Executive Director, AOPA Air Safety Foundation:
Safety Advisor, ''Operations at Nontowered Airports'', Operations and Proficiency No. 3
AOPA's 1997 Aviation Fact Card
''Stop, Look, and Listen'', article, AOPA Pilot, August 1995
''Ground Encounters'', article, AOPA Pilot, January 1997
''Collision at Quincy'', article, AOPA Pilot, December 1997
''Runway Incursions'', article, AOPA Pilot, January 1998
Communication between Richard Danz and Bruce Landsberg, January 1998
Responses to question from Rep. Lipinski on types of active aircraft in the US
Mead, Kenneth M., Inspector General U.S. Department of Transportation:
Percentage of Pilot Deviations Involving General Aviation Aircraft, chart
Differences in NASA and FAA Runway Incident Data, chart
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Moore, Capt. Mack, Chairman, Airport Standards Committee, Air Line Pilots Association, recommendations on ways to reduce the potential of runway transgressions and incursions
Morgan, Ronald E., Director of Air Traffic, Federal Aviation Administration:
Runway Incursions (Pilot Deviations on the Surface) by Operator or Type, January 1992December 1997, chart
Additional information concerning Runway Incursions, chart
Responses to questions from Hon. Bud Shuster, Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
FAA Runway Incursion Program, charts:
Runway Incursions by Type
PD RIs by Operator Type, 1996
Top Runway Incursion Airports, 1997
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Runway Incursions by Month, January 1996-August 1997
Runway Incursions Ranked by Facility, January-August 1997
ADDITION TO THE RECORD
Whitehead, Alfred K., General President, International association of Fire Fighters, letter, November 13, 1997
THE INCREASING NUMBER OF MISHAPS ON OUR NATION'S RUNWAYS
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1997
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m, in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN We'll go ahead and call the subcommittee to order, and I want to first say good morning and welcome to today's hearing regarding the apparent increase in aircraft mishaps on runways across the Nation.
As was pointed out in a couple of major stories in USA Today this morning, the near-misses seem to be at an all-time high, and obviously this is an issue that the subcommittee feels is very important. We look forward to hearing from the many distinguished witnesses that we have today so that we can better understand why these situations are occurring and, more importantly, what we can do to reduce these instances as best we can.
According to the FAA, between the years of 1993 and 1996 runway incursions increased 54 percent. It appears as if there are a few airports across the country where these near-misses, these runway incursions, occur more frequently: the Long Beach Airport in California and Merrill Field in Anchorage, Alaska, both have had seven runway incursions in the first 9 months of this year.
Other airports with similar problems include the John Wayne Airport in California, Lambert Field, in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport in Ohio. These airports, certainly, I hope, are trying to do better in this regard.
I know this issue of runway incursions has been on the National Transportation Safety Board's ''Most Wanted'' list for some time now, so we look forward to hearing from the distinguished Chairman of the NTSB, Jim Hall, on this. The FAA has put together a runway incursion action team and has given them the task of reviewing and making recommendations that will be effective, hopefully, in reducing these aircraft mishaps or occurrences.
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One thing that I'm very concerned about is the cost overruns and schedule delays in the development of the Airport Movement Area Safety System, or AMASS. It is my understanding that in 1992, the FAA estimated it would cost $34 million to provide 32 AMASS systems, with the first operational system functioning in November of 1994.
The FAA now estimates the cost of this Airport Movement Area Safety System will be more like $74 million, more than double, in fact almost, I guess, 2.5 times the original cost estimate to provide 40 systems, of which the first operational unit will not be ready until December of next year. We hope to hear from the FAA today about this program, as well.
We look forward to hearing from the panels that we have, and I now yield to my good friend, the ranking member of the subcommittee, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As always, I will keep my opening brief, since I am anxious to hear from the knowledgeable witnesses we have here today.
I am disappointed to learn that after a steady decline of runway incursions in the early 1990's, these mishaps on our Nation's runways are again on the rise. In fact, between 1993 and 1996, runway incursions increased 54 percent. I think it is important to take the time today to discuss what our witnesses believe are the reasons for this increase and what we can do to once again lower the number of runway incursions.
To its credit, the Federal Aviation Administration has taken an active role in addressing the problems of runway incursions. The FAA has addressed the problem both with advanced technology and with procedures to change pilot behavior at confusing airports. However, the increase over the past 3 years makes it obvious that even more needs to be done by the FAA.
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Although runway incursions are often just mere mishaps and result only in near-misses, they are still a significant safety issue. In fact, the National Transportation Board believes runway incursions are one of the most significant hazards in aviation today.
Obviously, this issue is very important, and I thank Chairman Duncan for holding this hearing today, and now I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, and thank you very much. Leonard, do youall right.
All right, we're ready, then, to proceed first withwe're very privileged and honored to have our colleague, the Honorable Dennis Kucinich, from the city of Cleveland, here to testify. And Dennis, we're really pleased to have you with us, you may proceed with your statement at this time.
TESTIMONY OF HON. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM OHIO
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Boswell.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you calling this hearing today and giving me an opportunity to present testimony on runway incursions that have been occurring at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport. I know that we share a common concern about the safety of air travelers. Certainly, this issue is a significant issue because we want to be sure that every time that someone is either landing or taking off that they're going to be safe, and you're performing a public service in this committee by holding a hearing on this, and I really appreciate your doing that.
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As the Subcommittee on Aviation may already be aware, in early October, the Cleveland Indians had just clinched the central division championship against the New York Yankees and were flying out of the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport on their way to Baltimore to play for the American League championship, when the airplane suddenly had to abort its takeoff. What happened? The aircraft was on the wrong runway. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Were this an isolated incident, it would be alarming enough, but, unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident.
Last year, Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport led the nation in the number of runway incursions, for a total of nine. And it is well on its way to leading the Nation again, this year, with an alarming 5 runway incursions and 19 so-called runway incidents.
As you probably know, an incursion is only when another aircraft is involved. An incident is more akin to what happened with the Cleveland Indians, where a potentially serious situation occurred, but no other aircraft was near by. While there is no single problem at Hopkins that is causing all these runway incursions and incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration recently instituted a new policy at Hopkins to address part of the problem.
Under the new policy, aircraft that will be taking off will be held until all planes have crossed the runway, rather than making the recently-landed aircraft wait until the runway is cleared across. While I could go into details about the runway configuration at Hopkins as it relates to the FAA's policy change, suffice it to say that, hopefully, this will address some of the problems, but this is by no means a final solution.
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The local air traffic controllers have said that many more changes need to be made in order to ensure the safety of travelers into and out of Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport. Local air traffic controllers say that a new cab coordinator position needs to be created to prevent runway incursions. This position is essentially an extra pair of eyes. The Cab Coordinator is responsible only for watching all the movement and maintaining awareness of the tower work environment.
According to the air traffic controllers, a departure coordinator position also needs to be filled. As you may recall, it was the Cleveland Indians' airplane that almost took off on the wrong runway. The policy change that the FAA has made does not address this problem. The air traffic controllers feel that having a departure coordinator would address the problem.
Air traffic controllers also feel that Hopkins is in desperate need of a traffic management unit to ensure that air space saturation does not occur. The traffic management unit would assist in traffic flows from the outer fixes outwardand that's outwardto determine traffic flows for peak demand time. This would reduce outer-fix holding times and provide a safer, more structured traffic flow into Hopkins.
These are just some of the changes that air traffic controllers feel need to happen in order to ensure the safety of travelers into and out of Hopkins.
I thank Chairman Duncan for holding this hearing and for giving the Federal Aviation Administration an opportunity to detail their responses, not only to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, but to the other airports that have seen an increase in these troubling incidents.
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Finally, I'd like to say that I have great hopes that the FAA, under the new leadership of Jane Garvey, will take steps to correct not only these situations, but to improve air traffic safety for this entire country.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much for this opportunity.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, Mr. Kucinich, thank you very much, and, certainly, you've expressed a lot of our concerns, and we very much appreciate your taking time out from your busy schedule to come here and be with us this morning.
And I think already you're getting off to a tremendous start as being a very constituent-oriented Congressman, and I think that's really the most important thing that any of us can do, to try to help make things better for our constituents.
Ordinarily, I ask the members not to ask questions of our fellow members who testify because we want to move as quickly as we can to the other witnesses, and also we have chances to talk to our fellow Members on the floor and at other times. And so, unless Mr. Lipinski or Mr. Boswell, Mr. DeFazio or Mr. Blunt, Mr. PeaseI think we'll let you
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Just one quick question only.
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I've read so much about this, and I read about Cleveland being so confusing. Could you verbally give us some examples of why it's so confusing.
Mr. KUCINICH. I think where the problem starts is that, you know, when airports were first built they, perhaps, in some cases, did not countenance the tremendous demand for air travel. And Hopkins, in particular, has runways which have been built fairly closely together. Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport now has a plan to expand a runway and build an additional runway that will separate the two runways, which should help solve some of the problem. As a matter of fact, it was just this last week that Congress passed legislation that enables Cleveland-Hopkins to move forward with its expansion plans.
But beyond that, Congressman Lipinski, the actual problems that are created often happen because you just don't have enough people watching. It can get that simple. And so you can have structural problems with the design of the airport itself, they can contribute to the problems. But often we just need an extra set of eyes watching to make sure that potential hazards are eliminated.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Okay. And my last questionthis is where they run the Indy car race isn't it?
Mr. KUCINICH. No, no, that's out at Burke-Lakeland Airport, which has not reported any incursion problems.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Good, thank you.
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Mr. DUNCAN. All right, thank you very much for being with us.
Mr. KUCINICH. Thank you, and thanks again for the public service you're performing by bringing this up, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you. Now, we've been joined by several other members, and I would like toI've already given Mr. Lipinski and Mr. Boswell chances to give opening statements, and Mr. Oberstar, would you like to make a statement?
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, first of all, for holding this hearing and renewing and reaffirming the committee's long-continuing interest in aviation safety, and particularly this issue of runway incursions.
It's astonishing to think that for over two decades the FAA did not have a definition of runway incursion. They could not tell you how many incidents were occurring because they didn't have a clear delineation of what constituted a near-accident on the ground. At the same time, they didn't have a very clear definition of near-accidents in the airnear mid-air's, as we call them.
Through the work of the subcommittee and repeated hearings that Mr. Gingrich and I, and Mr. Clinger and I conducted, we eventually brought the FAA, with the help of the General Accounting Office, to come to a definition of what is a runway incursion. You know clearly what it is when it results in a tragedy, and civil aviation's worst tragedy was Tenerife, in the Canary Islands in 1977, when two 747's collided in a fog on the runway and 583 people died.
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There was another near-tragedy that would have exceeded that number in March of 1988 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. In a snowstorm, a DC10 had been cleared for takeoff and was on its takeoff roll when, strangely, another DC10, also fully loaded with passengers and fuel, was given clearance to cross the active runway. The pilot of the DC10 on the takeoff roll saw the aircraft entering his line of takeoff. He knew he couldn't abort. He knew he couldn't divert, because that would have meant to crash into two other DC10's loaded at the gate and resulted in a worse conflagration.
Fortunately, Captain Nelson had just gone through DC10 power school to renew his skills, and had learned a technique of exacting 10 percent more power out of the engines, he used that technique and missed the intruding aircraft by something like less than 50 feet.
As scary and as tragic as those incidents are, they continue to occur, despite serious efforts by the FAA to avert such tragedies by training, by new equipment, by bringing better focus on the problem of runway incursion. Since 1990, there have been five fatal accidents attributable to runway incursions involving U.S. aircraft. The number of runway incursions reported at tower-controlled airports jumped from 186 in 1993 to 287 last year.
But during that period of timeand I want to make it very clearthe FAA has not been sitting on their hands and turning a blind eye. They have tried. They have implemented policy initiatives, they have improved pilot-controller communication and awareness. They have attempted to implement different signage requirements, tried to develop and put into practice ground radar movement systems to help controllers.
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In the time since those tragedies, and the very tragic crash in Detroit in a fog of two DC9's moving and colliding and resulting in serious fire and death, ASDE3, the Airport Surface Detection Equipment-3, has been implemented to help controllers see through fog. Precision runway monitoring systems have been developed and deployed around the country. ASR9 advanced radar systems that give you twice as many images per second have now been deployed throughout the country.
Still, the runway incursions continue. FAA developed the AMASS, the Airport Movement Area Safety System. Each of these technology fixes is welcomed, is important, but I think we continue to place too much emphasis on technology. We have to have it, we have to deploy it, but I think that we have to also place increasingly greater emphasis on human factors and on training of controllers and controller-pilot communication.
Tuesday afternoon, as I was waiting for my aircraft to leave the Hibbing-Chisholm airport, and listening in to the ground controller communication with general aviation aircraft and business aircraft preparing to take off, suddenly the controller shouted into the squawk box, ''You are taxiing on an active runwayget off.'' That can happen at a small airport, not busy as compared to Minneapolis-St. Paul or Cleveland or any of the airports, but it can happen there. It can happen because pilots aren't paying attention, because they aren't reading the signs, because they aren't listening to what the controllers are telling them, because they think, ''This is not a busy airport, so we can use the active runway to taxi''when there is a taxiway.
Today we're going to hear about proposals to change airport signs, to install traffic light signals that people would be more familiar with. Those are all important, and we want to hear about them. This is the forum in which we do that and do it well.
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I congratulate you Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lipinski, for pursuing and being persistent on these matters. It's by the vigilance of this committee that improvements have been made in air safetyon the ground, in the air, pilot-controller communications. If we keep up the vigilance, the public will continue to be well-served. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Oberstar. Vice Chairman Blunt.
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, I woke up this morning eager to fly home this afternoon, and it's 10 o'clock here and I'm already beginning to think, well, maybe if we stay another day or two it wouldn't be so bad.
Obviously, this is a serious matter, I'm certainly grateful to you for holding the hearing today. And the information we've already gotten from the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Oberstar, and what we're going to gain today, I hope will be helpful as we try to resolve this problem.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Mr. Pease.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm also grateful for the hearing, but I'll wait to hear the testimony.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. All right, thank you very much. Before we have the first panel, we do have a very short video which has been prepared, and we'll go ahead and show that at this time.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, thank you very much. We're going to have the rest of the video, I think, with the second panel.
We'll go ahead and ask the first panel to come forward at this time, and we're pleased to have with us The Honorable Jim Hall, who is Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, accompanied by Mr. James Danaher, Chief of the Board's Operational Factors Division, the Honorable Ken Mead, who has testified in front of this subcommittee on many occasions, and who is now the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Mr. Ronald Morgan, who is Director of Air Traffic for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Gentlemen, we're very pleased to have each of you with us, and most of you know that we proceed with the testimony in the order the witnesses are listed on the call of the hearing, and that means, Chairman Hall, that we will proceed first with you.
TESTIMONY OF JIM HALL, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, ACCOMPANIED BY JAMES DANAHER, CHIEF, OPERATIONAL FACTORS DIVISION, OFFICE OF AVIATION SAFETY; KENNETH M. MEAD, INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; AND RONALD E. MORGAN, DIRECTOR OF AIR TRAFFIC, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
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Mr. HALL. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Lipinski, Mr. Oberstar, and other members of the committee. It's a pleasure to be here and speak on a very important subject.
Before beginning, I would like to introduce Mr. James Danaher, who is here to my left. He is Chief of the Board's Operational Factors Division in the Office of Aviation Safety. His staff has been involved in the investigation of several major runway accidents that have occurred since 1990.
As a result of several runway accidents in the late 1980s, the Safety Board issued a number of safety recommendations to the FAA and placed this issue on its Most Wanted list of safety items. The Board is aware that the FAA has been grappling with the runway incursion issue, and we are pleased that it has taken some action intended to reduce runway incursion accidents and incidents.
For instance, the FAA has issued requirements for air traffic controllers to obtain read-backs from pilots for all short clearances. Second, they have completed the one-time examination of all U.S. tower-controlled airports to determine the existence of any restrictions to visibility from the control tower to the runway or other movement areas.
Third, they have sent letters to all flight instructors and refresher clinic sponsors, requesting that they emphasize the need for pilots to maintain vigilance in monitoring ATC communication frequencies. And, finally, they have, additionally, sent letters to all flight standard divisions requesting that information concerning this issue be provided to all known operators of pilot schools and FAA-approved pilot school certificate holders.
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And, finally, they have mandated that all aircraft equipped with anti-collision lights shall have such lights illuminated while operating, unless the pilot in command determines that because of operating conditions it would be in the interest of safety to turn the lights off.
Despite these actions, Mr. Chairman, FAA's latest statistics indicate that runway incursions were up 19 percent in 1996, compared to the prior year. In 1997, runway incursions increased 12 percent during the first 9 months of the year. Knowing what the devastating results can be from a runway collision, we find this trend disturbing.
Mr. Chairman, the FAA has made some progress in the installation of the ASDE3 radar systems. However, we remain concerned that their efforts to address runway incursions through technological development falls short of what is needed. Although the Safety Board and Congress were led to believe as early as 1991 that the FAA intended to move forward with the development, installation, and final commissioning of this AMASS system, AMASS has not yet progressed expeditiously from a developmental to an operational system.
During 1993, the Mitre Corporation, under the direction of the FAA, undertook the task of soliciting from select flight crews their ideas on how to cope with the airport runway incursion problem, and what site-specific tools or techniques they personally used to prevent runway incursion incidents or accidents. This comprehensive study produced a list of about 40 initiatives that Mitre believed would be doable, cost effective, and readily implemented.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because the FAA had not acted on this studyand it was brought to my attention at three days of hearings I held on this issue in 1995the Safety Board issued a safety recommendation that urged the FAA, in concert with industry, to form a task force to implement many of these recommendations in an effort to reduce runway incursions. Although the FAA agreed with this recommendation, it was not until October of this year that a roundtable discussion of the runway incursion problem was conducted.
The Safety Board is aware that the FAA has been testing prototype, low-cost ASDE radar systems at airports such as Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, and Norfolk. In addition, another ground loop technology is being tested at Long Beach, California. We applaud these efforts, Mr. Chairman, but the time has come to move forward toward final implementation. Also, the FAA needs to expand its focus on those areas where new technology may not be effective, such as pilot education programs.
Mr. Chairman, that completes my prepared statement. Mr. Danaher and I will be glad to attempt to respond to any questions that the committee may have. I would request that my full statement be submitted for the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, your full statement will be placed in the record, and thank you very much, Chairman Hall.
Mr. MEAD. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thanks for the opportunity to testify on the Federal Aviation Administration's runway incursion program.
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The testimony is going to cover three basic areas. Those are: increases in runway incursions; the need for a stronger program with follow-through and focusing on system-wide, as well as local, solutions.
I would like to say at the outset that FAA has not been sitting on its hands. They, I think, are proceeding in good faith. Nonetheless, we will identify some clear opportunities for strengthening the implementation of this program to cause a sharp reduction in runway incursions.
Runway incursions threaten the safety of aircraft passengers on the ground, just as near mid-air collisions threaten the safety of the airborne traveling public. Both runway incursions and near mid-air collisions represent close calls, and that means a reduction in the margin of safety. Reducing runway incursions is on the National Transportation Safety Board's ''Most Wanted'' list, and with good reason.
There are two points I'd like to highlight. The aviation system is in serious jeopardy of not meeting a goal of reducing runway incursions to no more than 41 a year by the year 2001. On the chart here, you can see off to the far right what the goal is an 80 percent reduction. Instead of decreasing, runway incursions are on the increase.
Another point, Mr. Chairman, is that FAA is moving to a navigation system combining satellite data and more pilot decisionmaking about routes. That will increase, possibly substantially, the metering of aircraft to airports and is likely to increase activity on the runways.
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Here is what the data show. The current goal is to reduce the number of runway incursions to 41 by 2001, as I said, that is an 80 percent reduction. In fact, as shown by the chart on the far right, the absolute number of runway incursions and the rate of incursions per 100,000 operations have increased, and that increase is not trivial. As this first chart shows, runway incursions increased 54 percent over a 4-year period. In the first 9 months of 1997, that trend continued upward.
In examining this data, it is important to recognize that runway incursions can be divided into three categories. The first is pilot deviations, marked in red. Those are errors attributed to a pilot. There are operational errors, in blue. Those are occurrences attributable to air traffic control. Then there are vehicle or pedestrian deviations, shown in white. Those, as the title suggests, involve the presence of vehicles or pedestrians on the runway. The data show that the increase between 1993 and 1996 is primarily attributable to pilot deviations, operational error staying about the same. Vehicle/pedestrian deviation also are increasing.
For your use, we have provided handouts and two pie charts. The chart titled ''causes of 1996 Runway Incurions'' shows that about 54 percent of the incursions in 1996 stemmed from pilot error. That is the top chart in the black quadrant. About three-quarters of incursions involve general aviation aircraft. That rate has not shifted materially in the last 5 or 6 years, save in 1994, when general aviation pilot deviations accounted for 61 percent. The importance of human error in all runway incursion categories, as distinguished from equipment failure, really cannot be overemphasized.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So what needs to be done? FAA does have a plan for reducing runway incursions. It was established in 1991 following an accident in Detroit. It was updated in 1995. The plan needs to be updated again in some material respects. But the chief problem is a classic onemaking sure we follow through on the existing plan.
That plan also requires several FAA organizations to work together, along with the FAA regions. You have air traffic, flight standards, acquisitions, and airports, plus the regions. All these groups in FAA have to come together and focus on this like a laser.
I would like to offer five action points to the committee. First, specific responsibilities under the current plan need to be carried out. An FAA team was supposed to implement and coordinate the 22 runway incursion projects listed in the 1995 plan, but the team was never started. Consequently, quarterly reports on accomplishments were not made; future plans were not prepared. Documentation was not available until we asked for it during our review, to show whether the timeframes were met.
We also found a disturbing lack of awareness of the action plan at the regional level. FAA headquarters had not properly coordinated the action plan with the regional offices. Further, the regions did not periodically analyze incursion data and marshal resources needed to address the problem.
As an example, regional officials were unaware that there were seven runway incursions at Newark Airport in 1996. At our request, airports, air traffic, and flight standards reviewed the data and determined that a $60,000 installation of warning lights would help materially in addressing the problem.
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A second action item: initiatives that work should be shared with other regions and headquarters. We found that airport-specific initiatives to reduce runway incursions at local airports often were not shared with headquarters. For example, a contractor was developing a state-of-the-art vehicle management system at Minneapolis-St. Paul using Global Positioning System technology. Neither the FAA air traffic manager there nor the national runway incursion manager were aware of this project, and this is a low-cost item. Clearly, the sharing of this type of information can help others.
A third action item: focus on pilot deviations. I pointed out earlier that this area is on the increase. FAA, in 1992, asked Mitre Corporation to study pliot error. Mitre came out with reports in 1994 and 1996. Those recommendations are fairly inexpensive. They need to be put on a fast track.
Also, the 1995 Runway Incursion Action Plan does not contain specific action items for general aviation. FAA recently initiated a joint project with the general aviation pilots. I think that that holds a great deal of promise.
A fourth action item: runway incursion data and analysis needs to be improved. We found runway incidents were not always reported at five airports we visited, and confirmation that suspected events were actual incursions sometimes took 3 years or more. Also, FAA regions could supplement their data with NASA data. NASA collects data under a voluntary program, and uses a different term''runway transgressions''. Transgressions do not necessarily have to involve two aircraftthere can be single-plane transgressionsbut they are a precursor of safety risk. FAA should be analyzing those.
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Fifth, the development and installation of technology. You've already heard there are two basic technologies here. One is ASDEAirport Surface Detection Equipment. It essentially provides a picture of the runway and things that are on it. Another term you have heardAMASS, the Airport Movement Area Safety Systemis essentially a device that piggybacks onto ASDE and alerts controllers, audibly and through signs, of potential conflicts. Thirty-four airports will be getting this technology.
AMASS been delayed many years, Mr. Chairman. Current milestones call for AMASS to be installed at the airports with ASDE by the end of year 2000. I do not think there is much fat in that schedule, and the big challenge is making sure we're vigilant to get the combined systems out there.
I would just like to say, finally, we are recommending FAA implement specific responsibilities for the projects in its action plan. I think that will go a long way in reducing these runway incursions. I do not think we should change the goal, I think we should stick with the goal and improve the action plan, and get these technologies out there.
That concludes my statement.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Mead, and next we'll hear from Mr. Morgan.
Mr. MORGAN. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee, and thank you for providing me the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss FAA's efforts to reduce runway incursions.
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Rather than repeat the information that has been presented by Mr. Hall and Mr. Mead, I'd like to provide my formal statement for the record and summarize my statement. I'd like to spend a few minutes telling you about actions we have taken to date in the areas of technologies, human factors, procedures, and planning, as well as our plans to issue an updated runway incursion plan in 1998.
I'd also like to say, at the onset, that we are very appreciative of the hard look that the Inspector General's office has taken at the runway incursion program. There are some very valid criticisms there, and while we are still in the process of digesting and responding to the draft audit, I want to use the recommendations contained in the recent report to improve our program.
Before I brief you on our general efforts, let me just say that we are carefully monitoring the situation at airports with multiple runway incursions. This year, we sent a runway incursion action team to six airports with the highest numbers of runway incursions. Those teams conducted on-the-spot assessments and developed recommendations designed to fix the problems. We have developed plans for each of the airports, and actions are underway.
In October, we sent a team to Cleveland to work with airport and city officials in response to a disturbing report about the high number of runway incidents at Hopkins Airport. Solutions identified included closure of a problematic taxiway, lighting improvements to highlight hold lines and improve taxiway guidance, and the immediate implementation of standard taxi procedures. We expect to implement the recommendations that have not already been implemented by Friday, November 21.
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Let me quickly update you on the efforts to put equipment into airport towers that will alert controllers visually and audibly of potential ground conflicts.
The system known as AMASS, or the Airport Movement Area Safety System, is a system that the NTSB has prioritized as a top ten safety recommendation, to which the FAA's response has been classified as open and acceptable.
AMASS will work in concert with ground radars known as ASDE3's that help air traffic controllers track movement of aircraft and vehicles on the ground. After some frustrating delays, 27 ASDE3's have been commissioned at 24 airports, and please note that the number which was incorrectly stated in my formal statement, should state that 24 individual airports have 27 systems of ASDE3's commissioned at this point.
We plan to have 40 operational systems at 34 airports by November of 1999. AMASS will go into every airport with an ASDE3 and delivery and commissioning of these systems will continue through August of the year 2000.
This system has also seen delays, but we are making progress with one unit undergoing testing and evaluation in San Francisco and another scheduled to begin formal testing in Detroit on December 9.
We continue to evaluate low-cost ASDE which would be a viable alternative for airports that do not meet the ASDE3 operational requirements cost-benefit criteria, with evaluations of these systems to be completed by August 1998.
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In the area of human factors, we have made progress, but more remains to be done. As recommended by the NTSB, we contracted with the Mitre Corporation to conduct a survey of terminal air traffic controllers to obtain their input on the causes and preventions of runway incursions. Controller interviews were conducted in March, and the study is expected to be completed in January 1998. The results, combined with the already completed survey of pilots, will be useful data in the ongoing effort to develop an updated runway incursion plan in 1998.
We are also in the process of evaluating the results of the human factors analysis of runway incursions caused by pilot deviations. This preliminary analysis has given us some insight into general aviation pilot deviations. These insights will be useful for the development of additional educational and training materials for pilots and controllers. This is an area in which AOPA has been working very hard with the assistance of FAA to develop pilot educational materials.
We have also made improvements in the area of procedures, notably issuing standardized taxi routes for nationwide implementation after successful demonstration at O'Hare, and updating the standardizing runway signage. We are also working to issue updated lighting standards.
We have heard the criticism that we suffer from a lack of followthrough. Our current effort to update the runway incursion action plan in 1998 will be a good starting point to determine where we need to go from here. To get it started, we held a safety round table on runway incursion prevention in October. Senior officials from government, including the IG's office and the NTSB as well as the aviation industry, participated in the discussions on the causes and prevention of runway incursions. The results of the round table will be used by a specially-convened committee of the RE&D Advisory Committee, a Federal Research and Development Committee, which will draft an updated plan. We expect that that draft will be presented to the full RE&D Advisory Committee by the end of January 1998. And I want to issue the updated runway incursion plan by June of next year.
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In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we have taken some positive steps, but we can do a better job of tracking and documenting our progress. And a better job of follow through in some cases. Some areas deserve greater attention, such as human factors, and we need to make sure that our updated action plan takes this into account. I want real action to come from our near-term efforts, and I know that Administrator Garvey does too.
I appreciate the opportunity to tell you about the activities, and I am ready to answer any questions you might have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Morgan.
Let me start off by saying that Chairman Hall pointed out that the worst accident in civil aviation history was a runway incursion in the Canary Islands, and some other incidents, and the video we saw pointed up some other tragic incidents very clearly. And in all the statistics, everybody agrees that this problem is increasing rather rapidly19 percent last year, 12 percent so far this year. A big increase in the last 4 yearsa 54 percent increase in the last 4 years.
But I'm not really clear as to why this problem is increasing at such a rampant rate because I'm told by the FAA that while there are many millions more passengers flying, that the number of passengers are increasing is primarily is that load factors have been increasing and there's not really been a similar increase or even much of an increase at all in operations. So why is there such a greatwhy is there 54 percent increase in these runway incursions when there's not been a 54 percent or even anywhere close to that in the number of operations? Does anybody have an idea of why this is growing?
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Mr. MORGAN Well, Mr. Chairman, I'll take a stab at it.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay.
Mr. MORGAN In the last 3 years passenger enplanements have increased in the United States by about three percent, but your assessment is correct, traffic has remained about stable related to the number of air traffic operations at controlled airports in the United States.
I believe we have a better reporting system than we did 3 years ago related to runway incursions and runway incidents. That doesn't account for the total increase. We also have an increase in the number of general aviation operations as the revitalization of the general aviation population is starting to come back. And that accounts for some of the increase, but not the total increase.
I would tell you that we're very, very concerned and the NTSB has identified runway incursions as one of our top-ten items on a day-to-day basis. I worry about runway incursions and pay close attention to them.
But I have no explanation for the large increase in the number of runway incursions.
Mr. MEAD. I testified in 1991, it might have been before this committee, on runway incursions. In reviewing that testimony, Mr. Chairman, it almost exclusively focused on technology. Specifically, the ASDE system and what the slippage would be. In reviewing FAA's current runway incursion program, I think it could benefit from a stronger focus on pilot error as well as the general aviation issue. FAA seems to be moving out in that direction now.
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But those are two areas where the growth in runway incursions is most pronounced. Notwithstanding, as you point out, the fairly level number of operations in the system.
Mr. DUNCAN. Right, your statistics that show that in 1994, there were 70 incidents caused by pilot deviation and then in 1996, there were 155 more than doubling. And also you provide us with information that shows that in 1990 the pilot deviations involved in general aviation aircraft were 72 percent in 1990, 72 percent in 1991, 74 percent in 1992, 76 percent in 1993, they dipped a little bit, into the 60's in 1994 and 1995, 72 percent last year.
What it would seem to meI think that it would be a good idea if somebody from the NTSB or the FAA or somebody would write an article about this for the magazine of the AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association andor do a mailing with an article about this to all the general aviation pilots and call their attention to it and tell them that we've got to work on this, we've got to do better. I'm a supporter of general aviation, and I know that general aviation does much, much good for this country. But I think that if we would try to call more attention to it among the ranks for the general aviation pilots in some way that maybe a simple little thing like that could help some.
And then some of you have made some other suggestionslet me ask you this and you know there's never an easy fix or a silver bullet, so to speak. But where can the government's money best be spent in trying to correct this problem? Is it pilot education? Is it additional radar? Is it doing better with air traffic control communication? Lighting systems? Is it all of those things, or is there something that we should really emphasize? Chairman Hall?
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Mr. HALL. Mr. Chairman, as has been pointed out, this is an issue, of course that began with the board of the 1970s. Member Lauber testified before this Committee in 1991 when Congressman Oberstar chaired this committee. We have had, since the 1990s, 5 fatal runway collision accidents resulting in 59 fatalities. Reading the GAO report, and I think that it's acknowledged by the FAA, there seems to be a need for increased communication and coordination of the programs that are presently underway within the FAA. The FAA has online a video for general aviation pilots in this area. They have taken some educational steps.
I think that the staff assigned to Mr. Card within the FAA to oversee this program and coordinate it between all the different organizations within the FAA, as was pointed out by Mr. Mead, is not sufficient. I'm meeting with Administrator Garvey on December 17, at her request, to go over some of our outstanding recommendations to try to see how we can move some of them forward. She is concerned about this. And that was one of the things that I was going to recommend to her, that Mr. Card needs additional staff if this job is going to get the appropriate emphasis within the FAA.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me hear from Mr. Danaher. Mr. Danaher, as I said, I know that there is no quick fix or no easy solution, but what is theif you had your wish, what would be the main thing that you would really like to do to see this problem corrected or improved?
Mr. DANAHER. Mr. Chairman, I believe that it is clear from what has been said already that the same way that this is a multi-faceted problem with no single panacea, in the same way, no single element within the FAA or in the industry is going to effectively resolve the problem or take steps to do it.
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It is a daunting task and it strikes our staff that having one individualas the Runway Incursion Program Managerto orchestrate and coordinate this with all the various offices within the FAA, the regions, the individual airports within those regions requires an incredible amount of coordination and orchestration. And with the Runway Incursion Program Manager having no dedicated staff, it seems as if it is a large task with very little support. It is acknowledged that Mr. Card, the program manager, could undoubtedly call upon the resources from the various organizational elements, but not having them dedicated to him would seem to be a great impediment.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I need to go to other members, but it would seem to me that when we all agree that this is a serious problem and a rapidly growing problem that we've got to do better than simply saying that it is difficult or that it is multi-faceted or that there are almost too many sides to it to do something about it. It seems to me that we've got to do something about it to try to make things a little bit better.
I've been askedMr. Lipinski asked me to go to Mr. DeFazio first, so, Mr. DeFazio?
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that.
To theMr. Morgan, representing the FAAI'm curious. It seems that as Mr. Mead said that the focus early on was these high-tech solutions as in the AMASS, and I don't know how well they are going to work, but I do note that we're having our usual procurement problem. We're behind schedule, over budget, and at least part of the problem, as I understand it, has to do with change orders.
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Why does this always happen with the FAA? Why can't we determine at the outset what technology we want that will meet our needs, contract for it, implement it, get it done. Have a contract that requires specific performance and get it done in time. Why doesn't this happen?
Mr. MORGAN Sir, if I might explain the connection between ASDE3 and AMASS which helps in the understanding of why AMASS was not delivered on schedule, then I will try to respond to the acquisition issue.
Many of the subcommittee members are familiar with our ARTS system which we use in the terminal automation area, and we know that radars feed the ARTS system and in fact provide terminal radar controllers the capability to track and control aircraft.
The same relationship exists between an ASDE and an AMASS. The ASDE is the radar system that provides the surveillance picture for the ground. The AMASS is the automation system that provides tracking and alerting for the air traffic controller.
A prerequisite to have an AMASS system is that you have an ASDE system in place to provide the data. We ran into a number of difficulties with the ASDE system. They are numerousdelamination of the antennas, a number of issues. And in fact, the ASDE system was delayed which then was a waterfall delay into the AMASS system. So that's why we were late with the AMASS system.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Change orders didn't play any part of this? I've read in reports that there were numerous change orders and specification requirements changes.
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Mr. MORGAN Sir, change orders did play a role in the AMASS system. That's a relatively new technology of being able to predict conflicts on the ground for all types of geometries at the airports that we're considering for various types of vehicles and aircraft. It is a difficult situation. Today the pre-production system that is being delivered to Detroit, has 34 various elements associated with it that have algorithms developed for the geometries that we believe are important.
If you were to use all 34 of those, each loss of life that has been spoken to on the panel since 1990, the five accidents, the particular scenarios would have been covered within the AMASS system.
We're still in the process of developing all the rest of the scenarios beyond those 34. There may be hundreds that we need to develop as we continue the development phase. So I don't anticipate that AMASS will be ever fully developed. Change orders will continue as a result of learning from the San Francisco experience with our prototype equipment.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Well, if I could, Mr. Morgan, it seems to me thatI mean first off, more emphasis, as has been pointed out, on the lower-tech solutions would have a tremendous benefit here. That is pilot training, in terms of general aviation pilots who cause the majority of incidents, cockpit coordination, pilot training for the commercial folks, signage, lightingand speaking of lighting, I have a question. I understand that there was a rule about the lights which should illuminate an aircraft on the ground, but it is left to pilot discretion. And I've read various accounts that pilots use that discretion inordinately, not because of real safety concerns, but some of them just don't like using those lights on the ground, and others complain about the glare of the lights, or this or that. So that essentially we have a real mishmash out there of lighting on the ground. Is that true? Don't you think that it is time perhaps for a more definitive ruling rather than at the discretion of the pilot?
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Mr. MORGAN I believe you are speaking related to the anti-collision lights on the aircraft.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Mmm-hm.
Mr. MORGAN The recommendation from the NTSB was that we consider a rulemaking that would require a change in newly manufactured aircraft for anti-collision lighting that would increase the conspicuity of an aircraft on the ground.
In addition to that another recommendation was that we would consider a modification of existing aircraft to also increase the visibility of aircraft.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Okay, have you done that?
Mr. MORGAN That is part of the RE&D subcommittee's evaluation and part of our 1998 plan. We have not executed any notice of proposed rulemaking at this point.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Mr. Morgan, I always hateand I have on occasion complemented the agencybut you know how it sounds when you come before the committee with a serious problem, the NTSB has made a recommendation that is not inordinately expensive or burdensome for the industry, and we hear from the agency, ''We received the recommendation, aircraft are still coming off the line without the improvement because we haven't taken any action. In fact, we're not really sure if we will take action. We have referred it to a subcommittee that might or might not report back at some date in the future with some recommendation that we might or might not propose for rule which might or might not take 2 or 3 or 5 years to take for fruition.''
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Last fall I changed the charge of your agency in legislation. Your charge is no longer promotion of the industry and sitting there and holding the industry's hand, and saying, ''Oh God, I know it is going to cost one one-thousandth of one cent per passenger revenue mile if we make you put those lights on the planes. We'll hold back.'' It is time to move forward with some of these things before we have more horrible tragedies. I don't know how many timesI've heard this, and I think that your administrator has a different attitude, but I don't think that it has percolated down through the agency. This is notthis is like a no brainer. The President talked about trade policy as a no brainer, well this is a no brainer. Why don't we have uniform standards for lighting and improved lighting so it doesn't cause the problems with glare in pilots's eyes, but it does make the planes fully visible? And it isn't going to cost very much. And you're going to study it, and you're going to study it and you're going to study it. And maybe before I die, or you know, maybe before I leave CongressI doubt thatyou might propose something. It really should happen. And I don't knowI think somehow we need to trigger a more definitive or rebuttable presumption from recommendations from the NTSB to your agency. And you can't just take them and say, ''Oh that was nice. And we'll study it to death.'' But you have to come up with some sort of standard that says, ''Here's why we're not going to implement it because it won't improve safety because of this, this, this, and this.'' I mean some much more definitive response to the NTSB. Because your responseand I'm sorry sir, it is probably not your faultis not I don't think acceptable. And that is just one of the minor issues before us.
So I thank the Chairman for his time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. DeFazio.
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Mr. BASS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you're yielding to me.
This is a rather interesting and perplexing problem. I'm somewhat surprised that we are not hearing today from representatives of the Air Traffic Controllers. There may be some reason for that. But the clear message that I get from the table there on the left is that incursions by type are up 100 percent over 3 years from operational errors, up 200 percent from vehicle and pedestrian deviations, and down about 5 percent for pilotoh, wait a minute, I'm sorry, I got this reversedpilot deviations are the one that are up 100 percent and operational errors are down.
My question to youyou know the weather is not any worse now than it was 3 years ago. And as our distinguished chairman mentioned, our operations have not increased, and as far as I can tell, training standards for pilots have not been relaxed. I'm assuming that you haveyou have said that reporting may be better. My first question is why is reporting better now than it was in 1993? What did you do that significantly increased the incidents of reporting that you didn't do in 1993?
Mr. MORGAN From our standpoint, sir, the awareness of runway incursions and runway incidents has increased significantly as a result of proactive effort on industry's part, AOPA. The Air Transport Association has put out a number of articles. We have put out a number of articles working with our airport safety inspectors and a group of almost 4,500 volunteers who work in the safety arena to communicate what we're trying to accomplish in runway incursions reduction. The awareness level of runway incursions is much higher than it has been in the last 3 years.
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Mr. BASS. So you think that is the primary reason for this increase?
Mr. MORGAN No sir. I cannot attribute the primary increase to that. I do not know what the primary increase represents. I think that a portion or a segment of that increase can be attributed to awareness.
Mr. BASS. Within the mix of operations, do you have any data that would indicate that there are less experienced pilots involved in the operation? Or are there more general operations versus commercial or ATP or do you have any data on that? I'm trying to get an idea as to what the profile is, if there is any theme that you can derive from a profile of a pilot error runway incursion that you may be able to see on the increase during this 3-year period. Is that
Mr. MORGAN We do have that data. The general aviation pilot population is increasing. It is starting to increase again. I don't have the demographics related to the length of pilot experience, though I could provide that for the record.
As we see in the data, many of the runway incursionsover 50 percent of the runway incursions that are pilot deviations move general aviation aircraft.
Mr. BASS. Are these generally pilots that are less experienced general aviation pilots or not?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MORGAN In most cases, yes sir.
Mr. BASS. Did you interviewI'm assuming you interviewed all of the players involved when something like this happens to ask them questions and so forth.
Mr. MORGAN The Mitre Corporation conducted a pilot survey for us which included both general aviation and professional pilots.
Mr. BASS. But if I were piloting an aircraft and I were involved in a near miss on the ground, what would happen after this occurred? And I did not follow the controller's instructions for one reason or another?
Mr. MORGAN We call that a pilot deviation. A pilot deviation is handled within our flight standards district office. The pilot is contacted, an interview is conducted and, if necessary, appropriate regulatory action is taken against that pilot.
Mr. BASS. When you interview the pilot, do youis the interview sort of an in-depth discussion as to why it happened? What is your excuse? What did you hear or not hear and so forth? And is this information compiled and recorded in any way?
Mr. MORGAN Yes sir it is.
Mr. BASS. I see.
Again, you can't give me any real detailed information. Maybe AOPA will be able to. Somebody has information breaking down the nature of this increase. Because again, I think that the other members of the committee have dealt well with this theme, and you talk about it as well, that nothing really has changed. And you talk about newer technology. But it doesn't seem to be the problem. I think that the discussion has to center onat least as far as the pilots and also the folks, I guess, driving vehicles, because that is up 200 percent even though the numbers are low. Something is wrong with the human element here. Maybe we have to slow down a little bit on the ground, or maybe the rules involving training for ground operation such as understandingmaybe some of these people didn't have their radios operating and they couldn't read the tower lights and that sort of thing. Have you looked at the training? Any training problems that might exist?
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Mr. MORGAN Yes, sir, we have. Related to the data breakdown, I would be more than happy to provide to the committee for the record, the way that we've segmented each of the pilot deviations, the category of pilots and how we've attributed those.
[The information follows:]
Mr. BASS. Perhaps what would be more helpful to the committee would be an analysis of that data rather than the raw data. Just say that, ''It is our opinion pilots that were improperly'' you know so forth and so on. Whatever your conclusions are, because it seems to me, judging from this tape that we have the human element issue here not so much a technology issue. I may be wrong, but that is what it appears from this layman's point of view.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me just say Mr. Bass, I think that you have asked some good questions and made some good points here, and I think that maybe we're getting somewhere on this because if 72 percent of these runway incursions are occuring with general aviation pilots and then when you say that most of theseMr. Morgan says that most of these are caused by less experienced general aviation pilots. And so maybe we need to increase the training and testing of general aviation pilots early on in their training and about this problem and how it has been growing.
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At any rate, we will go next to Mr. Poshard.
Mr. POSHARD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If some of the questions I ask were answered before I came here, just tell me and I'll get the transcript later on.
But just anecdotal experience, my own flight into Lambert Airport in St. Louis a couple of times a week, and I guess it was the year before last, we were coming in on a TWA MD80 flight, I think, if I remember correctly, and we were probably about 100 feet off the ground, the wheels were down and had been down for some time, and the pilot jetted right back up over the airport. A National Guard jet pulled out on the runway in front of him as he was attempting to land. And it was a pretty scary experience for everyone on the plane because we didn't know what had happened.
But I'm just wondering in the reading material that you've given us about the pilot deviations being the greatest cause of the runway incursion. I've had the impression all along, and I think that the general public does, that every plane out there in the general airport area, except the ones back in the maintenance area and the loading areas, were under the control of someone. Now, do pilots have discretion to just move around on the aprons and runways, you know, just arbitrarily? How does a National Guard jet pull out on a sunny, clear day in front of a plane carrying 160 people just with seemingly no one in control? How does that happen? I'm amazed to think that that could happen. It was an absolutely clear day. Visibility had to be as great as it could possibly be. Who was in control of that pilot and that National Guard jet? What do you mean that pilots have discretion out there in the airport where planes are landing and taking off to just move around? I mean, I know that the public can't understand that, so help me understand that.
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Mr. MORGAN Sir I'm not familiar with that particular incident, though I can give you two scenarios that could have happened.
Mr. POSHARD. Okay.
Mr. MORGAN One was that the National Guard jet was instructed to taxi to a runway. The taxi route did not intercept the runway. The National Guard jet did not comply with the instructions given by the air traffic controller and went across an active runway. That is one scenario. That would be called a pilot deviation. Another scenario would be that two air traffic controllers were involvedone working the arrival of the TWA, another controller working the movement on the ground, who either had a miscoordination or taxied the aircraft across without coordination, which would be an operational error, which is an error that would be charged to my controller work force and something that I take very seriously.
The go around may have been initiated by the pilot or initiated by the controller in either case. Sometimes the pilot who is very busy in a landing configuration and many go arounds are initiated by the air traffic controller. In the case of Lambert Field, the folks who are in charge of making sure that that operation runs correctly is the air traffic control work force, and that's their job.
So those are the two scenarios that could have happened in that case.
Mr. POSHARD. Okay, I understand that. But getting back to my question. How much discretion do pilots have to move around out there on their own?
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Mr. MORGAN In an air traffic-controlled environment, none. They are given a clearance, and in a positive-controlled environment, air space and ground space is assigned to individual controllers. The taxiways normally belong to the ground controller, the active runways belong to a position that we call the local controller, and if either needs to cross into each other's air space, coordination is accomplished. Aircraft do not move on the surface of the airport without a clearance.
Mr. POSHARD. Okay.
Let me ask you this, and you may have talked about this already. In Mr. Mead's report he said that the action plan, the 1995 action plan, in his report is not working, is intended that the team assigned to implement and coordinate the 22 runway incursion projects listed in the 1995 plan was never formed, regional officials that they visited were not familiar with the plan or with the FAA's goal to reduce runway incursions by 80 percent. FAA has only implemented one of ten recommendations made by a consultant in 1994 and 1996 to reduce pilot deviations on the runway. Why? What has happened that this has never been done?
Mr. MORGAN Well, Mr. Mead and I have had a discussion related to the reconciliation of the differences in our accounting for action items. I would tell you that out of the 1995 action plan, 75 percent of the actions have been completed, and the others will be either validated and carried over into the 1998 plan or dispositioned in some other manner.
We accounted for actions at a much lower level than Mr. Mead did. Of the 22 actions, I believe he says that 10 are completed, and 8 are in progress.
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In the Mitre report where there were ten recommendations that were given to us, Mr. Mead has spoken to one of them being completed in his report. We need to do some work together on that. We show more than that being completed and a number in progress.
Those actions were assigned to a government industry action team. That action team being a subcommittee of the RE&D advisory committee to the FAA, a Federal advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. They are working that issue, and in fact will be the group that will help validate our 1998 action plan and the actions that are spoken to in there.
Mr. POSHARD. So, not to interrupt you, Mr. Morgan, but Mr. Mead, do you concur in what Mr. Morgan just said, or do we have a difference of opinion here between the Inspector General and Mr. Morgan?
Mr. MEAD Well I would say it is a question ofI think there is a difference of opinion.
First of all, we have the Mitre report which is different from the Runway Incursion Action Plan, and the numbers that you were quoted from refer to the Mitre plan not the action plan. The Mitre plan's recommendations need to be incorporated in the FAA Runway Incursion Action Plan, because only 1 of the 10 actions recommended in the Mitre plan have been completed. Others, there is some work on the way.
In terms of the overall plan, Mr. Morgan is referring to the 22 action items. Of those, our review showsand I do not believe Mr. Morgan would dispute thisthat there are eight that were completed, four were dropped, ten are in process. And that gives you 12 of 22. Even including the ones that were dropped.
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Certainly I think that FAA has in the last 4 or 5 months done a significant amount. It corresponds, coincidentally, to the period of our review, and I hope that there is no proximate causation between the two. Butfor examplethis past summer, there were four or five strike teams going out to examine airports and analyze runway incursions. I think that was a very positive step.
Mr. Morgan also has mentioned that they are updating their program plan now. That's fine. But Mr. Hall pointed out, earlierand this confirms our review, the management of this program needs to be strengthened. The staffing of it at headquarters. The relationships between the regions and headquarters and different units in FAA, they need to be brought together to focus on runway incursions together. And I believe on all those points that Mr. Morgan would concur.
Mr. POSHARD. I thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Poshard.
Mr. EWING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My questions may be somewhat elementary, but when you talk about an incursion, that doesn't mean that there was an accident. Do those include where there was an accident?
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Mr. MORGAN Well, sir, I can give you FAA's definition of a runway incursion.
Mr. EWING. All right, that would be fine.
Mr. MORGAN A runway incursion happens when something, for example an aircraft, a vehicle, or a person creates a collision hazard or comes too close to an aircraft landing, taking off, or trying to land. That object is generally on the runway or a taxi way intersecting a runway that is active. And in general this happens when one of three things occurs: a pilot doesn't follow an FAA regulation, a controller doesn't follow an FAA regulation, or a a vehicle driver or pedestrian does not follow airport rules.
Mr. EWING. So if there was an actual collision between two planes, that would not be considered in these statistics?
Mr. MORGAN If it was at a non-towered airport, that is correct, sir. It would not be considered there, it would be called a runway incident and also an accident investigated in the same way.
Mr. EWING. We seem to be making it very complicated. I don't want it to be that way. If at O'Hare field there was an accident by two planes caused from what your definition is thatdo you count that as an incursion or is that a different set of statistics?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MORGAN If it happens at a towered airport, it would be an incursion. If it happens at a non-towered airport, it would not be considered as an incursion.
Mr. EWING. All right, thank you.
If the increase in the incident of these incursions deal with the total, does that go up with the amount of traffic at our airports?
Mr. MORGAN No, sir, the traffic has been relatively stable over the last 3 or 4 years. So the increase in the incursions cannot be attributed to an increase in traffic.
Mr. EWING. All right. You said that over 50 percent of these come from commercial pilot
Mr. MORGAN General aviation.
Mr. EWING. General aviation. Are those pilots givendo they have one license that allows them to land at a rural airfield or go into one of our major metropolitan airports?
Mr. MORGAN We classify airspace differently around large, metropolitan areas. There are certain pilot requirements and aircraft requirements to enter that airspace just beyond the basic requirements.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EWING. Would those requirements help train them for the complexity of landing at a major, international airport or a hub airport?
Mr. MORGAN When they are fully qualified, yes sir. They would be able to land there and comply with the instructions.
Mr. EWING. But when they are fully qualified, would there be a period betweenduring the qualification when they can land there before maybe they have full credentials to do that?
Mr. MORGAN The best way for me to answer that is that student pilots, for example, are restricted from certain large, metropolitan areas because of the type of airspace that is there. The regulation does not allow them to enter that airspace.
Mr. EWING. Is there any training required for airport signage?
Mr. MORGAN Yes, sir. There is initial training that is required and part of the testing is on airport signage.
Mr. EWING. Would that qualify or give you a good basis for understanding the signage at a major airport as compared to a country airport?
Mr. MORGAN The best way to answer that is tell you my experience. I'm also a pilot with a commercial certificate, and I used to provide flight instruction and do advanced ground school instruction.
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Certainly when I was providing advanced ground school instruction, we taught signage at airports. It is something that a pilot would have to continually educate themselves about because the signage has changed. We have complied with the International Civil Aviation Organization's signage requirements so that in the last 3 or 4 years, there has been standardization of signage throughout the country. There is something called the Airman's Information Manual which is what a pilot would use to actually continue his education related to the type of signage that is available.
Mr. EWING. Is there ongoing training with pilots into bring them up to speed? I mean, it would be like me going to the metric system. I'm not too qualified in the metric system.
Mr. MORGAN There is currency requirements. My particular job at FAA is the air traffic organization, and I have not done flight instruction for awhile, but I can provide for the record what the currency requirements are of various classes of pilots.
[The information follows:]
A demonstration of the knowledge of airport markings, signs, and lights is required by the practical and the written test standards for recreational pilots, private pilots, commercial pilots and airline transport pilots. Pilots are required to undergo a biannual flight review, during which questions about markings, signs, and lights may be asked by the flight instructor.
Mr. EWING. Just one final question: Does the FAA have a plan to address this, and is that plan being implemented?
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Mr. MORGAN Our plan to address this is our runway incursion plan. It is dated 1995. We plan on updating it next year with lots of input from our users, from industry, and yes, we plan on implementing it.
Mr. EWING. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Ewing.
Mr. Oberstar has graciously has asked me to proceed with all the members on our side first, and Mr. Pease, you have been waiting here patiently, and
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I did hear the presentation by these witnesses. I appreciate it. I stepped out to another committee meeting, so if the questions have been addressed, somebody stop me.
Mr. Mead brought forth some concerns, as I understood it, about the fact that even though there is a plan at the FAA, it doesn't seem to have received much attention after it was written. Did I understand or misunderstand your comments, Mr. Mead?
Mr. MEAD I think that's a fair assessment. There is a plan. There has been some progress at FAA. They are not sitting on their hands, but there were some clear management weaknesses in the implementation of that plan.
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Mr. PEASE. Okay. I appreciate that which leads me to Mr. Morgan. In response to some questions about what the FAA plans to do, you said that you are updating your plan. But if the new plan is going to get the same treatment as the old plan, what assurances do we have that anything is going to change?
Mr. MORGAN I agree with the Inspector General's report in that there is room for improvement, especially in the coordination and the communication of our plan. We have already initiated action to identify focal points in each of our nine regional offices that would be a focal point to the National Runway Incursion Program Manager so they can have responsibility and accountability in each of the nine regions.
In addition to that, it is my intent to speak with Administrator Garvey as soon as possible related to developing a cross-organizational team to support the National Runway Incursion Program Managersomeone from our Flight Standards Organization, someone from our Airports Organization, that might work as a team to do a better job with communication. I think that will go a long way to addressing the successful implementation of the plan.
Mr. PEASE. I appreciate that.
Mr. Mead, also in his, I think, four points of suggestionor maybe five/fourthe last two dealt with focus on pilot deviation and a need for initiatives for general aviation. Mr. Oberstar made some comments as we began about the needobviously to move forward with our technical improvements, but to spend maybe a little more time on the human side of this, and it seems to me that particularly given what we've seen in these charts that there's a lot of merit in that.
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My question to you is, is it a violation of any Federal regulationFAA regulations for pilots to participate in runway incursions? Or to create a runway incursion.
Mr. MORGAN Well, a runway incursion, sir, comes in various categories. If it is a pilot deviation, an incursion created as a result of a pilot error, yes it is in violation of the regulation.
Mr. PEASE. Okay, then what do we do with those who violate? Particularly since it looks like the greatest increase comes from pilot deviations? Are we disciplining those pilots? And what is theand if not, why not? And if so, what is the experience in the last several years in discipline of pilots with regard to their license or otherwise?
Mr. MORGAN There are violations and there are temporary revocations of certificates for periods of time. I would like to provide to the committee for the record what we have done in the past 2 years related to violations and actions taken against pilots who create runway incursions.
Mr. PEASE. I think that it would be very helpful to see that, and I appreciate your willingness to get it to us. At the present time do you have any general information that you can share with us?
Mr. MORGAN No, sir, I don't. It is in a different segment of the organization.
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Mr. PEASE. Would anybody at the table know what we're doing for pilot discipline in this area? Okay. Then I'll appreciate receiving that.
Thank you very much. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My first follow-up question is to Mr. Morgan about your comment that signage has been standardized now. I recall the accident in Detroit a few years ago where two Northwest planes collided in the fog, and a number of pilots commented that the signage at Detroit Metro is among the more confusing in the world. Are you saying that there is total standardization now in the United States, and that Detroit Metro as well as others are clearly signed and understood by all pilots?
Mr. MORGAN Well, sir, I can tell you that over the past few years we've spent $180 million on standardizing signage throughout all of our air carrier airports, or those that are certified under Federal Aviation Regulation 139, those that carry passengers and are of a certain size.
Those signs comply with the ICAO requirements, and so we are standardized from that point of view. I wish I could assure you that every pilot understood those signs. I can't do that.
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Mr. EHLERS. Well, apparently not since the incursions are increasing even though the signage has improved. But I appreciate the answer.
Another question for Mr. Hall on a slightly different topic. I just heard this morning that the FBI has officially concluded that sabotage was not a factor in TWA 800's crash. What is the status of your investigation and have you reached a conclusion yet in the cause of that accident?
Mr. HALL. Our investigation continues, and I anticipate being in New York next Tuesday when the FBI holds a press conference on the status of its investigation. But our investigation has continued, Mr. Ehlers.
We have a hearing scheduled in Baltimore, Maryland the week of December 8, in which the public docket on the entire investigation will be open, and witnesses will be called to discuss every aspect of our investigation.
Mr. EHLERS. Do you have a target date by which you hope to conclude the investigation?
Mr. HALL. I would hope that the investigation is concluded before the end of 1998.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you very much. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Vice Chairman Blunt? Thank you.
Mr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In the defense of the FAA, particularly after the blistering attack from my colleague from California, I feel like you do a good job. I've been in some airports where I was not real familiar with the runways, and usually the ground controller will direct me, and I appreciate it.
Do you think the problem could be improved if you had more air traffic controllers?
Mr. MORGAN. I hired 500 new air traffic controllers and it's my intent, based on our appropriation for 1998, to hire another 800 controllers. This year will be the first time in 5 years that I've had the capability to have adequate controllers to match my staffing standard for all the facilities, all 575, throughout the United States. It's my intent to continue building that controller workforce to plan for the attrition that we are expecting, starting in the year 2001 and 2002. So the support of this Committee and other committees in Congress has been very useful in building our controller staff.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The answer is, yes, based on our plan, we have adequate control personnel. The number one runway incursion airport in the country has an authorized staffing of 48 and I have 47 people there.
Mr. COOKSEY. Is that Cleveland? What airport is that?
Mr. MORGAN. That's Cleveland right now.
Mr. COOKSEY. Cleveland, yes.
Mr. MORGAN. There does not seem to be a correlation related to the runway incursions to the staffing numbers. The correlation in my mind, from an air traffic standpoint, is the complexity of the runway configuration related to the runway incursions.
Mr. COOKSEY. I've never been in or out of the Cleveland airport. Is it an old airport with runways going in more than one direction or two directions?
Mr. MORGAN. Yes, sir, the complexity of Cleveland is that you have two setsyou have a set of parallel runwaysrunway 23 left and 23 right, that are separated by 400 feet, with a diagonal crossing runway, runway 28, that terminates at the end of one of those runways. Actually, it crosses through it diagonally, it doesn't terminate at the end. It's a very difficult configuration as a result of where the terminals are located and the taxi procedures to get to runway 23 left and right.
We believe we have a handle on that now. We have agreement with the airport authority and the pilots are relatively pleased with the actions that have been taken and hopefully, we'll see the runway incursions decreasing at that location.
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Mr. COOKSEY. Well, if the Congress would see fit to increase FAA funding, as we have an increase in air traffic and air traffic passengers flown, I think that would help your problem, but I don't think that exists and that solution is probably not going to occur, but I think it might help.
I think it would probably help the members of this committee, in fact, maybe we would not be so shrill in our criticism, if all of the members of the committee that have not done it, would go out and get in the right seat and taxi around the Cleveland airport at nightat, say, 8:00 at nightwhen there's a high traffic time. I think it would make us better committee members. Probably tame our rhetoric a little bit and enlighten us, but anyway, I don't want to anticipate it. Maybe it's an idea, maybe we ought to put that through as a bill.
I can't help but feel that part of the problem is that there a few old airports that have complex runway systems and I know that there is a problem with that new international signage and it's come about since I did all my early flight training and I'm sure there are a lot of people that don't know it. Plus, I know that at a busy airport, when they give you a clearance, sometimes it's really fast and you've got to write fast to keep up with it which I think adds to the problem.
Mr. MORGAN. Sir, if I might add to that, at the more complex airports, what we've done in recent years is establish standardized taxi routes which are published and therefore the pilot has a pictorial of the airports surface and a standardized route for which we give a clearance. It has assisted significantly, not only in frequency congestion, but understanding between the controller and the pilot.
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Mr. COOKSEY. It's like the SID, then?
Mr. MORGAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Morgan.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Cooksey, and I might say that this subcommittee supported and we gave this year the FAA it's biggest increase in funding ever, over $1 billion. In fact, the top leadership of the FAA has said the problems we're having are not money, because if we gave them much bigger increases, they couldn't spend it properly really. So, we're doing well by the funding and I hope nobody has the impression that we're shortchanging. We gave FAA one of the biggest increases of any agency in the entire Federal Government and I believe they appreciate it, too.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You're quite right about the funding increases and this committee has led the way and you, in your chairmanship have been a strong advocate, along with Mr. Lipinski, for providing the resources necessary for the agency to do its job.
I want to thank Mr. Cooksey for his remarks of balance and equanimity about FAA and its role and its work. All too often, it is poorly understood that the FAA has to run an extraordinary gamut of actions before it can promulgate a rule. The public hearing process, the notice of proposed rule making, the comment period, the hearing that has to take place, the inevitable calculation about to which court is one or the other side going to run to protest the promulgation of the final rulemaking, the cost involved in the cost benefit analysis that is involved in a rule making, all of those are extraordinary impediments to the promulgation of rules and taking of action. I have found that my 15-plus years of conducting hearings and inquiry into FAA activities, at the core, personnel at FAA are highly dedicated safety professionals that take their jobs seriously. They want the resources and the flexibility to do that job.
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There has also been a go slow, be cautious attitude that has frustrated me in the past and frustrated the NTSB and I think that there was quite a period of time when the FAA did not act expeditiously. But I think that mindset has changed as people have changed, as the structure of FAA has changed away from the nine regional fiefdoms, as I called them, when there were nine regions and each deputy or regional administrator had extraordinary authority to countermand directives from headquarters and run the agency in his or her region as they best saw fit. That's changed. The straightlining of FAA, doing away with the regions, accountability to the top, and the culture change that has taken place as we've moved away from the military mentality, command and control mentality, to a more inclusive operation of FAA. All of those have been great benefits.
What I would like to see is a more aggressive pursuit of safety. I would like to see more of the NTSB-type mentality: ''we have a problem, there is a fix available, let'sto be suretake account of the cost, but let's take greater count of the cost of lives to be lost if we don't do this and the benefit in lives to be saved if we move ahead.''
Every time an airplane lands, you don't get a headline, when it lands safely. You don't get news stories on television, radio, or the print media for safe takeoffs and landings, for the incident avoided. So, unfortunately the successes don't make the news that failures do. Shakespeare had words about that 400 years ago, ''The evil that men do lies after them. The good is often interred with their bones.
Now we have four factors: the pilot, the controller, the ground vehicles and weather. Any one of those individually or any combination can result in loss of separation and a collision hazard. What you look for in safety investigation is common threads, commonalities. Chairman Hall, what are the commonalities in the last 5 years' incidents of runway incursions? What are the common threads that the NTSB has identified as factors that need to be addressed?
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Mr. HALL. In the five accidents that we've investigated since 1990, we have found the human element to be the main factor. That is why we have been placing such important emphasis on the implementation and development of the AMASS system at our major airports, along with emphasis on the implementation of the recommendations in the MITRE study that were taken from the pilots and from the controllers themselves.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You would identify the human factor as the single, most important commonality in the incident
Mr. HALL. Mr. Danaher, might want to expand on that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Of course. Of course.
Mr. DANAHER. Thank you. I believe anywhere we look in human endeavorpilot error, human shortcomings emerge as a central and pervasive element and
Mr. OBERSTAR. Are there three types of humans involved? There's the pilot
Mr. DANAHER. Yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. the controller and ground vehicle operators. Which of those have been the most significant factors or do you put them all on the same level of problem?
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Mr. DANAHER. In many ways, ground air traffic control is done essentially as it was 3040 years ago. In the enroute force, we've had the addition of radar, altitude and coding transponders, conflict detection and resolution, MSA, your minimum safe altitude. There haven't been a corresponding number of additional supports for control of traffic on the ground. As the volume has increased, as the complexity, the ability of the human operator, whether it's the controller to track what the pilot is doing, or the pilots to, notwithstanding their familiarity with the airport, to stay abreast of all that's happening makes it difficult. So that's why we believe that the education and training element has to complement a technological improvement.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, you're quite right about the need for technological improvement and your observation about the lack of progress or comparable progress in ground control compared to enroute traffic is quite important and quite prescient on your part. The technology side, though, we've had ASDE3, AMASS, Airport Movement Area Safety System, conflict alert with precision runway monitoring systems, new signage in an effort to have commonality of signage, more reflective striping, proposals for traffic light-type signals. Conflict alert you cited as important. There is conflict alert programmed into stars with the flashing red signal which of course, would be better than the ARTS, or the ARTS3, or common ARTS, either one of them, which show as black and white and has a flashing signal, but it doesn't jump out at you like a red flashing signal on a color screen would do. However, I also understand that STARs cannot accommodate the precision runway monitoring as it is now designed, although that design can be changed and the software can be changed, but it is now not able to accommodate PRM, so we're losing some elements here. What other technology needs to be developed to help ground controllers?
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Mr. DANAHER. I don't have an answer for that, but the many elements of technology you've cited, for the most part, are still in developmental stages. If you looked at how much the busy airport terminals that have this functioning, commissioned and fully operational, it's relatively small. The ASDE3 system is emerging as an excellent tool, but it's yet another aid to the controller to stay abreast of what events are occurring. But in so doing, it divides his attention between looking out the window of the tower cab and looking down at the display. Unless there is some additional supplement to alert the controllerand that's where the AMASS and other technology, whether it's on final approach path and so onwould be a much needed supplement.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You've got an awful lot going on on the ground when you're up in the cab and you're looking out over the airport surface, you have to be extraordinarily alert. I've been in numerous air traffic control towers across the country and I know just how cat-like quick the controllers have to be to observe. But it's in those situations where you have bad weather where all the sensory antenna of the controller and in the internal sensory antenna of the controller have to be at full alert stage and they've got so many things to watch. ASDE3 was supposed to help them see through fog, AMASS was supposed to help them get a better picture of the runway surface, ASR9 is supposed give them faster and more images of the runway surface. Are they ableand you rightly point outthey can't be distracted too long from looking down at a display surface from looking out at the runway where they need to be watching.
Let me move to Mr. Morgan and ask what additional training are you prescribing for tower controllers to help them adapt to and absorb all this influx of technology?
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Mr. MORGAN. Sir, what might help is if I explain how AMASS is structured to work. The ASDE3 radar, the ground surveillance radar, is a wonderful tool and I know you've had an opportunity to see that. The old ASDEs, ASDE1 and 2 systems, showed a radar target. With ASDE3, in almost all cases, I can even count engine nacelles as I see the target moving on the ground. The resolution is excellent. But it still provides only surveillance of the ground. What is important is to provide some automation aid, technology that would allow the air traffic controller to be assisted by this surveillance data. The AMASS data is not only visual, but it's also audible. If I might use an example where you may have an aircraft on the runway that for some reason a controller has forgotten and an aircraft is approaching that runway, not only is there a visual picture, as the aircraft is approaching close to the airport, of the aircraft sitting on the runway surface and the one about to land, but there's an audible warning that would be given to the controller that would say, incursion alert, runway, and then specify the runway.
What that does is eliminate the heads-down time even during good weather, even if the weather is good and there is a cognitive skill breakdown of the controller, there is an alerting device that's not intrusive, that would not take away from the controller's attention. So, the type of training that we're looking for is not only the technical training of how to operate the equipment, but the human factors training of memory, cognitive skill memory, and what to do related to these types of verbal alerts and then in poor weather, how to do the scanning associated with the visual references.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Is there recurrent training for controllers to emphasize these skills and to develop their acuity?
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Mr. MORGAN. Yes, sir. We call it proficiency training. We provide proficiency training on a regular basis to controllers.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Mead, you, during your years at GAO, were a strong advocate of greater emphasis on human factors in aviation safety and on recurrent training. Is there sufficient recurrent training for pilots to better understand the difference in airport signage, the difference in airport operations at the various tower-controlled airports in this country? Is there sufficient training for controllers to stay abreast of the new technology and master theand integratethe technology and skills that are necessary to operate that new technology?
Mr. MEAD. Generally, no. Mr. Morgan aptly covered the issue with the controllers. A point regarding the pilots, is even more fundamentalidentification of what training is needed. For example, in terms of the technology going in, just 14 of the top 27 airports with four or more runway incursions are going to be getting this technology. There are another 13 where the human factors are going to be a major element in the system.
I think individual airport configuration is an area that needs more focus. Standardization and communicationthose are areas that I would focus onand training, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. Chairman Hall, your concluding paragraph in your written statement, quite appropriately recalls to mind the statement of then board member, John Lauber, at our hearing in 1991, on runway incursion. He then made the rather dire prediction, ''We expect the potential for ground collision for departing or arriving aircraft will increase.'' That projection has certainly been borne out.
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What particular areas do you emphasize that the FAA focus on, that the pilot community focus on, that the technology community focus on, to ameliorate the situation?
Mr. HALL. Congressman OberstarI think this hearing is so timely because the reason we have a reporting system is to try to identify the problem before we have a horrible accident or an incident. As the GAO report states and through the increased reporting of the FAA, we have detected a problem. It's one that has been worked on and been a concern of our Board since 1971, and been actively worked on since 1991. We stated, Congressman, when you were out of the room, that we felt that the present structure within FAA to implement this program is inadequate and understaffed and that needs attention. I think the other thing that needs attentionand I believe that Administrator Garvey is going to bring that type of attentionis exactly what you mentioned. Is the urgency to these safety issues.
My main criticism of the FAA, during my tenure as Board Chairman, has certainly not been in the competence or the professionalism of the people, but it's the timeliness in which they get on top of these safety issues and particularly when we have issues identified by the GAO and identified by their own reports. We would hope, of course, that there would be additional staff and attention given to this problem within the FAA; that the AMASS program, which is the last line of defense at the 40 airports which it's going to be implemented, which is 5 years overdue, be put in place by the end of this century as has been promised, that there be no further delays in that program, and finally, that the FAA listen to the pilot community and the controllers, as they have done through the MITRE Corporation, and put the emphasis on the solutions that the pilot community and the controllers tell them need to be done to help them deal in this very, very complicated and growing aviation dynamic that we have out there on all the airports around our country.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much. I would just, in conclusion, recommend that the FAA call a high-level, nationwide conference on runway incursions as it has done on other safety issues, such as aging aircraft and the more recent one on center wing fuel tank, and bring together the pilot-controller community, the NTSB, the manufacturers of equipment, and airport operators. Bring them all into one nationwide conference to deal with these issues in a concentrated, determined and effective manner. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you. Mr. Lipinski?
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to say that I want to complement the members of the subcommittee, first of all, on the excellent turn out we had for this panel and the superb questions they asked. I think one of the reasons for that is the fact that the assembled group of individuals before us have a great deal of knowledge and have been able to answer questions in a very informative, articulate way and I think that motivated members to ask even more questions, but I think it is extremely helpful and illuminating to this particular situation. I know I personally a always enjoy when Mr. Mead and Mr. Hall come up here to testify because we seem like we gain a great deal of information. That's not to slight the other two gentlemen, but those two gentlemen make a number of appearances here and they also, sometimes, make appearances in my office.
Mr. Morgan, though you and I have a very close proximity because I noticed earlier that, like the man who built that big airport in Chicago, Richard J. Daley, you call it O'Hara, and he called it O'Hara, also. The rest of the world is out of step, they call it O'Hare, but I know that you and Richard J. are correct in your pronunciation of it. You also called the airport in St. Louis, Lambert Field, and I was stationed at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, back in the early 1960's and I used to go up Highway 66 to St. Louis in a car and then get to Lambert Field and fly back to Chicago, so I'm also very familiar with Lambert Field and have an affinity for that, even though some misguided people now call it St. Louis International Airport.
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I was going to ask Mr. Oberstar earlier who Lambert was, but I figured we don't have too much time, so I'm not going to do that right now.
Mr. LIPINSKI. In my opinion, based upon your testimony and what I have read, is that the problem we have is a significant problem, it's a problem in the area of pilot deviation and it's a problem in the area of general aviation, primarily.
I have a question of Mr. Morgan. If I am a general aviation pilot, I have my license and I have my top grade license so I can fly into any airport in the country. Do I have any specific educational program to teach me what I'm supposed to do when I land at O'Hare International Airport, or as you and I would say, O'Hara?
Mr. MORGAN. Sir, there's no site-specific training that has been given to a pilot, unless it was given by their flight instructor prior to going in there. However, there's an obligation for that pilot to become aware of the particular airport layout, taxi procedures, and any local procedures that are at that airport.
Mr. LIPINSKI. You mentioned earlier that there arepeople can bereprimanded, disciplined for violating various procedure. What isin the penaltyis the suspension of their license, you said? For how long a period of time would this occur? I know it would be based upon what the offense would be, but what's, say, in a rule of thumb, for some of the offenses and the periods of time?
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Mr. MORGAN. Sir, I'm sorry I can't provide that. That's outside of my area of expertise, but I can provide it for the record of the span of types of disciplinary action or revocation of licenses that are given for various runway incursions.
[The information follows:]
Mr. MEAD. Mr. Duncan
Mr. LIPINSKI. I would appreciate that. Yes, Mr. Mead?
Mr. MEAD. Oh pardon me, Mr. Lipinski. If I might interject on this issue of the discipline and punitive measures that might be taken. The first thing we need to know is why these incursions occurwhether they are pilot deviations or operational errors by the controller. I have a concern that if we focus too much on the penalty side of things, we may lose a full understanding of the cause of the accident. Controllers and pilots probably could speak to that better than I can, but it's very important to do a surgical anatomy of why these runway incursions are occurring.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I would somewhat agree with you, but I think that penalties are important because I think the only way we're going to really get to the heart of this problem to solve it is we have to educate general aviation pilots more on the various runwaysvarious airports ratherthat they are flying into. I think a lot of the problem comes from that particular area. The chairman wants us to move on and I want us to move on, so I thank you, gentlemen, very much, and I yield back the balance of my time to Chairman Duncan.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Lipinski. I apologize, we've got three votes now occurring. So, I'll tell you what though, since so much of this problem is human error, apparently one of the best things we can do is to continually and repeatedly call attention to this and you've certainly helped do that by your testimony here today.
I thank you very much. We will dismiss the first panel, apologize to the second panel and we'll start back as soon as we possibly can.
We'll be in recess.
Mr. DUNCAN. We're going to go ahead and start with the second panel. First of all, I want to apologize. We had two 15 minute votes and a 5 minute vote. I know one time we had a hearing in this committee, though, and we had the heads of all the major airlines, including two airline CEO's from Great Britain and we had 24 votes in a row and we had to cancel that hearing entirely. There are other members that told me they were going to join us in just a few minutes, but I'm going to go ahead and proceed with the testimony.
The second panel consists of Mr. Gary Jolly, the president and CEO of the SAFEGATE Group, Mr. Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, and Captain Mack Moore, chairman of the Airport Standards Committee for the Airline Pilots Association.
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We are going to deviate from the standard order just a little bit because I understand that Captain Moore has to catch a plane very shortly, and so Captain Moore, I'm going to let you go ahead and proceed with your testimony. Thank you very much for being with us.
TESTIMONY OF CAPT. MACK MOORE, CHAIRMAN, AIRPORT STANDARDS COMMITTEE, AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN O'BRIEN, DIRECTOR, ENGINEERING AND SAFETY DEPARTMENT; GARY JOLLY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SAFEGATE GROUP; AND BRUCE LANDSBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION
Mr. MOORE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you stated, I am the chairman of the Airport Standards Committee for the Air Line Pilots Association, ALPA, and I'm accompanied by Mr. John O'Brien, to my right, the director of the Engineering and Air Safety Department.
ALPA has had a longstanding interest in addressing the incursion problem and we have been successful, in partnership with the industry and FAA, in promoting safety enhancements aimed at curbing them. However, because the number of incursions has increased each year since 1993, it is vital that we analyze the effectiveness of the measures taken thus far and determine what additional actions are required.
We believe that there are three principle reasons the number of incursions is increasing. One, the number of ground operations at the Nation's airports is increasing without a commensurate increase in new infrastructure; two, pilot unfamiliarity with airport layouts and confusing or misunderstood ATC clearances; and three, an inadequate level of leadership by the FAA in addressing the incursion problem.
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Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, the 33rd busiest airport in the U.S., led the Nation in the number of incursions last year with 9 and is on pace to meet or even break that record this year. Although Cleveland-Hopkins experienced a 23 percent increase in the number of operations between 1993 and 1996, no capacity gains were made through the addition of new concreteno new runways or parallel taxiways were added and only a few small taxiway connector changes were made.
The story is the same at other airports having high numbers of incursions. It can be reasonably concluded that where traffic growth is increasing at airports and the runway and taxiway capacity remains constant, pilots and controllers must do everything faster which can lead to more mistakes.
In today's airline operations, flight crews operate into airports every day at which one or more of the pilots have never operated before. Airport unfamiliarity can be aggravated by confusing taxiway and runway configurations. Cleveland-Hopkins has two very confusing taxiway runway intersections where the majority of pilot errors occur at that airport.
Unfamiliarity at an airport can be exacerbated by air traffic controller clearances, shot rapid fire over the radio frequency with little chance for pilot confirmation. This is commonplace at the busiest airports. Certain types of ATC clearances can cause confusion, such as the common practices of clearing aircraft across multiple runways without naming each runway in the clearance. In order to reduce this confusion, controllers should clear aircraft across only one runway at a time and specifically state which runways may or may not be crossed while going to or from the terminal.
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Regretfully, FAA leadership on the problem of incursions has bee inadequate, at best, for nearly 2 years. Previously, the agency made strides to decrease the potential for incursions through the introduction of new, standardized sign systems at all certificated airports, better paint markings, new ATC procedures and airfield surveillance equipment, among other improvements.
The FAA, in 1995, developed a runway incursion plan that contains a number of recommendations which we support. We've been disappointed by the agency's lack of action on some of these recommendations since that plan was published. Last month the FAA convened a 2-day meeting with the industry on incursions which was the first such forum since 1994. The meeting provided little information on the status of programs contained in the 1995 plan.
One of the projects in the 1995 plan is entitled, ''Improved Aircraft Conspicuity'' which responds to an NTSB recommendation to make aircraft more visible during ground operations. In July of 1996, we wrote to the FAA requesting that the agency complete its aircraft conspicuity project by publishing guidance for flight crews to turn on landing and other lights when on an active runway. We also recommended research and development on new lighting which would help pilots see other aircraft. To date we have not received a reply to our letter. The 1995 plan included other projects which have been delayed, as well.
The FAA has also failed to sponsor an adequate number of Runway Incursion Action Teams at specific airports to focus on the causes and solutions for those incursions. In our view, neither FAA nor the airport operators are acting quickly enough or with sufficient resources to correct the problems which the Runway Incursion Action Teams identify.
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In summary, the causal factors of incursion are difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. Reducing the potential for them is a resource-consuming task which needs the prompt and ongoing attention of both government and industry. We urge this subcommittee to exercise its oversight authority and instruct the FAA to report on its incursion prevention-related activities and progress, twice annually, to prevent further lapses of necessary activity.
We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you and would be pleased to respond to questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Captain Moore, and I understand that Mr. O'Brien will stay to answer any questions and so you're free to go catch your plane, if you would like. Thank you very much for being with us.
Mr. MOORE. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr. DUNCAN. We'll get back to the standard order now and that means we'll have testimony now from Mr. Gary Jolly, who's president and CEO of the SAFEGATE Group.
Mr. JOLLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee for the opportunity to address you. I would like to start by showing the balance of the video with which we opened these proceedings.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Go right ahead.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, and, Mr. Jolly, let me tell you, that's a really fine video and I appreciate your bringing it to us and you may proceed with your testimony.
Mr. JOLLY. Thank you, sir.
Don Nelson, former vice president of Flight Operations at Northwest, made this video that you've seen, on a pro bono basis, because he believes in the need.
Earlier today, we've been discussing some advanced technologies that still remain some years away. There's something that could be done now to assist in the reduction and the potential catastrophic loss from runway incursions and do so at a modest cost. This is to have the FAA classify in-pavement smart lighting as safety and security improvements so as to qualify for priority in distribution of the FAA discretionary airport improvement program funds.
Runway incursions continue to pose a significant and growing threat. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to include runway incursions on its most wanted list of safety improvements. Runway collisions have caused numerous fatalities.
The projected growth in air traffic will increase congestion on the ground. Without safety improvements at these airports, it's only a matter of time until another catastrophic accident occurs. In-pavement smart lighting systems, which employ yellow guard lights and controllable stop bars at runway entrances, may have prevented many of the runway collisions that have occurred.
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As the film stated, smart airport systems and lighting are already part of the FAA's more elaborate future airport systems safety guidance and control systems. They are, however, a discrete component that can be installed now and will provide that extra margin of safety.
The more complex ASDE3/AMASS systems located currently at Boston Logan, still have some technical problems primarily centered around difficulty in tracking multiple aircraft on the ground. But then even when it is complete, ASDE and AMASS is only intended to be installed at 40 airports in the United States. What about all the rest? Most all airports have lights.
The component of the integrated system, that of the smart airport systems lighting, is available now to provide what is essentially an inexpensive traffic light system. Technical advances have made it possible to install these systems at low cost, use them without disrupting airport operations, constricting airport capacity or imposing additional traffic on air traffic controllers. Systems are, in fact, being installed around the world. The FAA should set the pace and standard within the United States by giving priority in airport improvement programs.
Thank you. I certainly would entertain any questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Jolly. Next, we'll go to Mr. Bruce Landsberg, who is the director of Air Safety for the Air Lineor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation. Mr. Bruce Landsberg.
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Mr. LANDSBERG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Landsberg, thank you very much for being with us today.
Mr. LANDSBERG. Thank you and distinguished members. We are affiliated with the AOPA and we're the Nation's largest non-profit organization providing aviation safety education and programs to the general aviation community. As you may know, more than half of the pilots are members of the AOPA, which makes them the world's largest pilot association. I also have the honor of chairing the FAA's Runway Incursion Subcommittee, so I wear several hats this morning.
You've heard all the statistics so we don't need to go through those, but the mission of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation is to proactively increase general aviation safety and we're working very aggressively to deal with the runway incursion program, in cooperation with the pilots, the airports and the FAA. The runway incursion campaign I think should be, and is, an industry and government partnership. Our work with the FAA on this project, so far, has been cooperative.
Mr. Chairman, as you've heard from previous testimony, in the era of multi-billion dollar solutions to air safety problems, we think that runway incursions can be reduced significantly with relatively inexpensive, low technology methods: better paint, lights and signs. Lights, as Mr. Jolly has just shown you. In addition, there are some high tech and relatively expensive means that should be considered perhaps, in the higher density air carrier airports that must continue to operate in periods of reduced visibility.
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You've heard that the majority of incursions involve general aviation aircraft. I would also point out that the majority of operations also involve general aviation aircraft so there is not a disproportionate number there. One thing I think is important to note. Most general aviation operations occur in daylight hours and in good weather. We think that this may be a likely explanation for the fact that only two of the runway incursions this decade including the recent tragedy at Quincy, Illinois, involving general aviation pilots, resulted in fatal accidents. While runway incursions are a serious concern to air safety, general aviation has not traditionally been a significant factor in the fatalities.
I would also like to point out, that with some speculation on the qualification level of the pilots involved in the accidents, in two of the accidentsSt. Louis and Quincythese were not low-time inexperienced pilots. These were professional corporate pilots, flying general aviation business aircraft.
I think it's also important to point out that virtually all runway incursions are unintentional and the causes of unintentional errors that lead to incursions can be traced to confusion on the part of the pilot. Confusing and poorly visible signs, markers and poor communication with air traffic controllers. The best analogy I could make is that signs, painted lines, and traffic lights on the roads, if they are inadequate or confusing or poorly visible, we have a lot of near misses, and occasionally some accidents.
We've been asking about what some of the solutions are and the Air Safety Foundation and the community are working aggressively to prevent runway incursions. In fact, it was about all I could do to sit still, as you were going through some of the problem areas in what could be done because we happen to have some things right here.
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Since the pilot is such a key element of all of this, the safety foundation has responded with an education and awareness campaign that began the day after the Quincy, Illinois accident. Mr. Chairman, I would like to enter into the record some of the products that the Air Safety Foundation has developed and uses to reduce runway incursions. I will be happy to leave these materials. I brought just a few of them with you.
This is what we call our safety Seminar in a Box. This was sent out to 100 FAA aviation safety program managers just shortly after the collision. Some of the items that are contained in there are operations at non-towered airports. This is a 16-page guide and it will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about those operations. Additionally, we produced a pamphletor excuse me, a posterthat was sent out to 5,000 and flight schools all over the country within 6 weeks after the Quincy accident. I think we're probably looking at doing something similar to start to publicize this effort. Additionally, we already had in our active library a videotape and slides to help pilot counselors and flight instructors conduct this effort. In cooperation with the FAA, which helped to fund some of these efforts, we are already working on a similar campaign for operations at towered airports.
[The information follows:]
For these operations, I think there are several procedures that need to be undertaken and the runway incursion subcommittee will deal with some of them. We hope to have these recommendations to the FAA's RE and D Committee by the end of January. I hope that these recommendations will be followed and, as you've heard in prior testimony, this seems to be a bit of a difficulty.
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There are basically four groups that are involved: Pilots need to adhere and understand clearances, controllers need to provide clear and unambiguous instructions as well as provide a back up in the event of pilot transgressions. That also means having radio frequencies uncongested enough that you can get your point across. Airport sponsors needs to provide proper signs, lighting and clear paint markings to provide pilots will well-marked taxi paths and runway entrances. Finally, government and private charting resources should provide larger and clearer depiction of runway and taxiway areas.
Thank you very much for the opportunity, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Landsberg. Mr. Lipinski?
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank all the panelists, particularly, Mr. Landsberg, because most of the comments that were made when the earlier panel was here, including my own, put a great deal of the responsibility and the blame on general aviation pilots. I think you were very articulate in putting forth some other remedies. Also, in putting forth the information that you have given to the general aviation pilots. Unfortunately, I'm not totally convinced as of yet that the main problem is notI'm not totally convinced that the main problem isn't with the general aviation pilots and their deviation.
Could you give me some figures of how many commercial planes there are, you know, passenger, commercial, passenger planes, how many freight carriers there might be, how many general aviation planes there might be, how many military planes, police department planes, fire department planes, in this whole operation so I might be able to figure out for myself what the percentage might be?
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Mr. LANDSBERG. We will provide that for the record.
[The information received follows:]
Mr. LANDSBERG. In terms of general numbers, though, I would estimate that there are roughly 8,000 air carrier aircraft in this country. I would also estimate that there are approximately 180,000 general aviation aircraft. The numbers that we've seen and, in accordance with the GAO's testimony, they indicate the GA represents about 75 percent of the flight operations and they also happen to correspond to about 70, 72, 75 percent of the runway incursions.
There was one other thing that I did forget to mention while I was going through in terms of the education process. Those are in communication to the pilot community. In addition to the people who attend free safety seminars, and we did over 300 of them last year, we have a very effective communication vehicle, which is our magazine, which reaches over 340,000 pilots. I'm pleased to tell you that in August 1995 we did an article prophetically titled, ''Stop, Look, and Listen,''which talks about operations on the ground. In January 1997, right after Quincy occurred, we did an article called, ''Ground Encounters'' which addressed that. As a result of the NTSB just publishing the final report on Quincy, we have an article which will be coming out in the December issue, called ''Collision at Quincy.'' I think you will see that there's a great deal of emphasis that's being placed on this.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We also conduct flight instructor recertification clinics for over 8,000 CFIs every year and I can guarantee you that this is going to be one of the top items in there.
[The information received follows:]
Mr. LIPINSKI. Well, it seems to me that there is a tremendous amount of information put out by your organization, and I complement you on that. I just don't know if the general aviation pilots are paying any attention to it, reading itreading about it, I mean. People can talk to you until they're blue in the face, but if you don't hear them, it's really not doing much good.
Is there any way that you have of evaluating the material that you're putting out, how much of it is being absorbed by the general aviation community?
Mr. LANDSBERG. That's a very tough thing to measure, in that, how do you measure the accident that didn't occur? I've been in the safety business for a long time and it's very, very tough to get measurement on that.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I understand that certainly it would be. I thought maybe in one of your magazines you could give a test though and see how many people might participate in a test and mail it back in to you give us a
Mr. LANDSBERG. I think we might try something like that on the Internet. We have a Website and there are all kinds of intervention strategies. One of the things that we're talking about, your concern about new pilots. I think one area we're looking at is to do some mailings to student pilots. As soon as we know somebody's become a student pilot we are going to start contacting them and hitting them with some of this information.
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Mr. LIPINSKI. Is there anyone that does anything in regards to trying to educate general aviation pilots, or for that matter, commercial aviation pilots? Anyone that is new and what the ground rules are, what the airport looks like, you know, on the ground? It seems to me we have a void here where people obtain a pilots license and yet they reallyif they've never flown into O'Hare or Midway or LaGuardiaand no one has, you know, sat down with them and talked to them about it or they've been given any materials that they have read, that they could havethere is really a great potential there for a problem.
Mr. LANDSBERG. Well, first off, I don't think you'll find very many light aircraft pilots going to O'Hare. We generally prefer to go to reliever airports and we appreciate the funding that you provide for those.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Well, there's an awful lot of them that go to Midway Airport in Chicago and I happen to live eight blocks west
Mr. LANDSBERG. I understand.
Mr. LIPINSKI. of the Midway Airport in Chicago, so I'm always a little concerned about people flying in and out of there.
Mr. LANDSBERG. I shouldn't mention anything about keeping Meigs open, that's a different forum, but
Mr. LIPINSKI. I was neutral. Go ahead.
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Mr. LANDSBERG. In any event, there are some guidelines out there. For pilots who fly on instruments, they have instrument approach charts and in their instrument approach chart kit, there will be a runway diagram on many of the approach charts. As I mentioned in my testimony, I think we could do a significantly better job of, on the more complex airports, of getting better charting information out there.
I guess the best analogy here, we keep saying, you know, well how does this happen and why are pilots doing this? Probably everybody in this room has had the occasion to run a Stop sign, inadvertently, in the course of driving. It's usually a surprise, frequently the sign wasn't well marked or you didn't see it or you were thinking about other things. I think what we need to do is to help, as they do in the traffic business, to make things far more conspicuous which Mr. Jolly, I think, would probably heartily endorse. Right now, we don't have any system of really good checks and balances. In other words, the only thing that we rely on now are some signs and some paint markings. In almost every other area of aviation there's a safety net, if you will, where you've got more than one person looking at it. So, I think there are some elements of technology and there are some elements of education that willno one particular thing is going to resolve this.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I thank you very much for your testimony. Mr. Chairman, I'm finished.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Lipinski. Mr. O'Brien, let me ask you this. Captain Moore says at one point in his testimonyor said at one point in his testimonyunfamiliarity at an airport can also be exacerbated by air traffic control clearances shot rapid fire over the radio frequency with little chance for pilot confirmation. This is commonplace at the busiest airports. Certain types of ATC clearances can also cause confusion, and he goes on to elaborate some. Mr. Landsberg mentioned this.
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Is this a serious problem? Are air traffic controllers issuing confusing instructions and has your organization been attempting to point this out to them or ask them to try to do something about this? What's the situation there?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I'd like to say that there's probably some responsibility in both ends of the radio. Use of standard phraseology and response to instructions, read back of clearances, all of those things are important. Having chaired the first industry runway incursion task force back in 1991, 1992, 1993, one of the first things that this group arrived atthis was a joint FAA and industry groupwas that the duties and responsibilities or roles and responsibilities of the air traffic controller were different for operations on the ground than they are in the air.
The roles and responsibilities of the pilot on the ground are not very well defined at all. As a result of that, this group, back in 1991, recommended very strongly that a detailed examination of the roles and the responsibilities of both the pilots and the controllersthis gets into communications and instructions and standard phraseology, as well as the actual practices that are supposed to be performed both by the ground controllers and the pilotsneed to be reviewed and need to be clearly defined.
FAA agreed with this, a contract was given to an academic institution, this institution retained expertise, performed a study, made specific recommendations, and delivered a report back to the FAA. This report was supposed to have led to the publication of an advisory circular to provide specific guidance in these areas. This has not been done as of today. But the report that we issued also said that if we're to gain any of the benefits of new marking, lighting, signageany of the new technologies that are talked aboutif we're really to gain the benefits through these systems and simple things, like marking and lighting, we have to first define what the duties and responsibilities are, and develop the procedures accordingly, and then train.
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Some of the problems that Mr. Landsberg was referring to about training and communication and roles and responsibilities really cannot be resolved by awareness, posters, articles, if we really do have confusion out there about roles and responsibilities. That was identified as a primary thing that we should be working on back in 1991.
Mr. DUNCAN. Do you agree with Mr. Landsberg when he says some of this we can see some significant improvement in regard to this problem if we go to fairly simple, low tech, low cost solutions like better lighting, better signs, less confusing signs. Do you agree with that?
Mr. O'BRIEN. All of those things help and we have gone to standard marking and lighting and signage now, as a result of the accidents in Detroit. So, that can help, but again, those standard marking, lighting, and signage items, without proper definition of roles and responsibilities and adequate procedures and then training to those procedures, we won't be able to take advantage of those improved marking, lighting and signage items. So, we have to do that first if we're going to really get at the human error part of this equation, we have to adequately define the roles. We've done a much better job of defining roles and responsibilites for inflight operations than we have on the ground, that's one of the reasons why were having runway incursions.
Mr. DUNCAN. We've actually heard complaints that some air traffic controllers have opposed some of the low tech solutions like stop light systems and so forth, because they want to go strictly to the more expensive high tech radar. Have any of you heard that complaint?
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Mr. O'BRIEN. We've heard that discussion, in fact, we have a formal liaison effort between ourselves and NATCA and we discuss issues like this. It's really not an issue of wanting to go to the more sophisticated system, it's a question of workload. The low tech systems, stop lights and things like that, required manipulation of controls in the tower cab. The controllers were actually concerned about additional workload and responsibilities associated with those particular systems and were asking for a more automated system to keep workload within reason. We are very sympathetic to those views. There are many human factors issues associated with a lot of these things that really have to be worked out properly before we can say, yes, that's the way to go. It's very easy to define a system, however, unless you human engineer it, you're not going to get the true benefits out of it.
I'd like to make one more comment on the
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN. One of the basic requirements for communication is to have standard phraseology. There are international standards. One of the issues that hasn't been talked about at all is the problem that the foreign operators have that come into this country. If we have a hard time understanding each other, imagine what those people find when they come in here. There are international standards for phraseology. The United States has refused to adopt those standards. In fact the United States has filed a difference with these ICAO standards. We were unable, back in the 19911992 runway incursion effort, to come up with standard phrases to address this particular issue. That's still an open issue today.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Landsberg?
Mr. LANDSBERG. I was perhaps going to deviate just a little from my friend, Mr. O'Brien's observations that pilots not understanding. From my perspective, as an active general aviation pilot, I generally know that I'm supposed to get on a runway or not get on a runway, but where I sometimes might have some difficulty and would like some guidance from the tower, is when I don't know exactly where I am on the airport and as it's been mentioned earlier, I believe Mr. Cooksey said, you know it's very hard to locate yourself when you're sitting at ground level with a sea of lights, particularly at night, but even in the daytime. We have a procedure called progressive taxi, where you can ask the tower, and say, okay, I'm not sure where I am and they'll say, okay proceed straight down that taxiway you're on, alright, hold short of the runway coming up, alright now make a left turn. That works very, very well and I've flown all over this country, in a variety of weather conditions, and not have difficulty with that. Where it breaks down, is in areas when you have low visibility and the tower can't see you. Fortunately, most GA pilots aren't operating in that low of a visibility.
The other problem where it becomes difficult is if you're at a very busy airport where ground control is doing a tremendous amount of firing instructions back and forth and the pilot may be a little reluctant to ask and so we have frequency congestion and then that leads to a problem of somebody getting to someplace that they really don't want to be. I think that there may be some technical solutions there of providing some more frequencies. I've talked to a number of airline pilots. Now that does create some coordination problems as well, because now you've got another person involved in the coordination loop. But if we can't communicate with one another, with air traffic controllers and pilots, we have a significant difficulty.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Right. Yes, Mr. Jolly. Let me ask you, Mr. Jolly, I was very impressed with your video and I've been very impressed with his smart light system. You know, it seems like sometimes we run into a problem and we come up with a real complicated solution that makes the problem worse than the one we started with and your red and green stop and go system seems to be a pretty good system and the staff tells me that it can be installed at a typical airport such as Salt Lake for $2.5 million, compared to $8 million for the ASDE3/AMASS system. What do you say aboutMr. O'Brien said some of the air traffic controllers don't want these stop light or stop and go systems because it increases their workload?
Mr. JOLLY. As you saw in the film, what we did in this installation and most of the ones that are happening now, we involve the operations people very closely. In fact, Tom Rizzardo, in this specific film, from the FAA tower, played an integral part in designing how the entire screen system worked.
Mr. DUNCAN. I thought the system worked by sensors. Does it require air traffic controllers to turn those lights on and off someway?
Mr. JOLLY. In the initial installationor excuse mein taking an aircraft onto an active runway, what the air traffic controller still does as they give the clearance to take the runway, is they push one button that turns off that stop bar. After that they system is, in fact, automated. What you did not get the chancebecause we edited the film in consideration of timethere is a statement on the full tape, by Mr. Rizzardo, that a tool like this has, in fact, cut his workload, not added to it.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. A statement by whom?
Mr. JOLLY. The FAA operator, Tom Rizzardo, the actual air traffic controller, says, and I can certainly provide you with an unedited version.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, we've had the air traffic controllers testify here before this subcommittee on many occasions and we had them scheduled, but they had to make a last minute cancellation that couldn't be avoided. I understand that there's a stop and go lighting system installed in Boston that's operational, but that it's not being used. Do any of you know about that and why that's not being used?
Mr. JOLLY. The installation in Boston was originally set up to be a test system. The intent was not to take that system operational until the ASD/AMASS system can be integrated into it. The rest of the world, I say that, and I'll just give you a quick list of systems who arecountries who are installing these type of systems without ASDEs: France, Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Austria, Canada, Brunei, Mainland China, England, Norway, Kuala Lumpur, Korea, Shanghai, Dubai. They are specifying these type of systems in their tenders today. They are going to the next step.
I wish to compliment Mr. Landsberg on his concern that says, and I tend to take the pilot's view also, when you land and you say where am I, where do I want to get to and how I might go into get there? Several countries are, in fact, using the same automated taxi routes that the FAA mentioned, but what they are doing, using a smart light system, is they've replaced the follow-me trucks by turning on the lights ahead of the aircraft to follow. The lights turn off behind the aircraft as they pass and reset for the next aircraft, who may be going to alpha-1 instead of charlie-2. These are specified today, they are being implemented.
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On the air traffic controller, were going to say we will glad to provide you with an uncut tape where you actually can hear the air traffic controller say it reduces his workload, not adds to it.
[The information received follows:]
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, Mr. Landsberg, let me say that I appreciate the work that your committee and you have been doing and it sounds like you've been doing some good things, but obviously with things going up to the extent that they are, you're either going to have to do more of the same or come up with some new approaches I guess. Although, it is certainly not entirely a pilot thing. Some of this has been caused by the vehicle operators on the runways.
Mr. LANDSBERG. I would say that we certainly have to accept responsibility. What we've started to do, you have to realize that our emphasis was on Quincy and post-Quincy types of accidents and we've just started to apply the vaccine so it takes a little while for the medicine to take place.
But I think I also said, in my testimony, that this is not a single-pronged effort. Some of the problem areas at some of the airports have been well identified. On our committee, we know of probably a dozen airports that the FAA knows about that have problems. I'm told that the accident that occurred in St. Louis, there were three other incidents that occurred prior to that with pilots getting onto the wrong runway. So, I think we have to take the information that's provided to us and start to act, proactively, so I think there's enough work for everybody out here and not just the GA community and pilot education. We'll certainly take the responsibility for that and we'll work very closely with the FAA on that, but there's no one silver bullet.
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I think you're talking about lighting systems, I think we're talking about training with air carriers, there are procedures with some carriers. I only know this because one of our staff members is an airline pilot, he said, when we come up to an active runway, if we're running checklists, we stop doing that and the captain looks out the left side of the airplane and the co-pilot looks out the right side of the airplane to make sure that we've got it. So there are procedures that can be used in multi-pilot cockpits and different carriers. I would submit to you that probably Northwest Airlines has a pretty aggressive program on dealing with runway incursions. I don't know that the other carriers do.
John, can you shed some light on that?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Procedures and training vary from carrier to carrier. Northwest, of course, had the series of accidents and the close call that Congressman Oberstar referred to earlier and that stimulated a lot of interest on their part. That makes you think a lot and take action. Northwest is probably leading the industry in that area today as far as training for flight crews.
Mr. DUNCAN. I asked Mr. O'Brien this, but have you had complaints from your members about confusing air traffic control signals and havewell, apparently you have, because you did mention thatbut, have you done something to try to remedy that? Have you been in touch with the air traffic controllers?
Mr. LANDSBERG. We've had some discourse
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. I'll tell you, I can imagine that the air traffic controllers are a little sensitive about that, but I mean still, they need to be contacted.
Mr. LANDSBERG. The controllers aren't the only source of the problem. There was an airport that I was flying into recently, that shall go nameless, that had the standard signing that everybody talks about and, for a GA airport, it's fairly complicated. They have two crossing runways and two parallel taxiways adjacent to it. I was unfamiliar with the airport and it was fairly busy. I called the tower and they said you're cleared to go, so and so. I looked at the signs, they were the right color and the right shape, but it wasn't immediately clear to me as to which taxiway that I was on or the one that I was about to enter. Now, having flown through Atlanta recently on an air carrier, I was watching their signage because I've been sensitized to this whole process recently. Atlanta does an excellent job of signing, whereas other airports, while they might have the sign standards, have not implemented them nearly as well. So, I think within our community there's quite a disparity and in fact, I intend to notify Mr. Card of my findings on this particular airport and say that I think they can do a much better job.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I've gone far longer I should have and I want to go to Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's the prerogative and the responsibility of the Chair to pursue lines of questioning and follow them through as you have done, and I think that's quite appropriate.
Is there any class or category or pattern of conduct in the incursions and deviations that we are seeing in the last 5 years different from the patterns of conduct and incursions and causes of loss of separation that were characteristic of the 1980s?
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Mr. O'BRIEN. From the information that we've looked atI'd say it's almost identicalthere's no real substantive change. You can't say that the trend was this type of incident before, now it's some other type of incident. As Captain Moore indicated in his testimony, we had three main areas of concern, as far as runway incursions were concerned, and that had to do with confusion as a result of communications, it had to do with construction on airports and I forget what the third one was, but those are the three areas that cause us concern. We have our own pilot reporting system, of course, it just takes in air carrier pilot reports and they fall right into those three areas. If we went back and looked at what we did in 1991, it's exactly the same.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Landsberg?
Mr. LANDSBERG. I'm not aware of a significant change. We're still having difficulties in the areas that we've traditionally had difficulties. This is something that I will ask our FAA staff to research for our committee meeting and our second committee meeting, incidentally, will be a week from tomorrow.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, you know that's very disturbing and that's the answer that I expected. We addressed this issue, we the committee, the FAA, the Flight Safety Foundation, the pilot community, in the early and mid-1980s and then again in the early 1990s and now we're here, the latter part of this decade and we're still having the same class and pattern of conduct.
To be sure, many improvements in technology and supposedly training for pilots and controllers, but the pace is quickening and that's a matter of concern, despite all the best efforts of all of us that are involved in aviation safety. You know, when a controller is responsible for loss of separation or for an encroachment or a deviation, that controller, whether enroute controller, TRACON, or tower ground controller, has to remove him or herself or be removed from controls and go through training and be recertified before they can go back to operations. A pilot gets a warning. They get a stern warning, get a talking to, but isn't removed that I know of. I think pilots ought to be required to go through recurrent training and particularly when they do miss. They ought to have simulator training for general aviation and for commercial part 121 carrier pilots on reading their approach plates they ought to have recurrent review by appropriate personnel, whether it's the check pilot or chief pilot or whether it's FAA personnel or Flight Safety Foundation doing it for general aviation.
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This is extremely important business. I have flown a great deal, general aviation pilots, air taxi service, and they're going into a new airport, looking at their plates, I'd have a whole lot better feeling if they had done that before they got on board the aircraft, instead of doing it as we're approaching. One time a pilot asked me to look out the window and see if I could identify White Iron Lake. I thought this was a test, a quiz. I said, ''Yes, that's White Iron Lake.'' He said, ''Oh boy, I feel good I've never been up here before.''
Mr. OBERSTAR. He said, ''I just flew over from Wisconsin, my first time into Minnesota,'' I just made the sign of the cross and said a few prayers.
Mr. LANDSBERG. Mr. Oberstar, I might suggest that you choose better care in your charter operators, but
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, the charter operator's very good, he didn't have the regular pilot, so they hired a new guy.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Congressman, just to add a little bit on the pilot side, you mentioned that the controllers are taken off their workstation and they get extra training or whatever. Sometimes, that actually happens to the air carrier pilot, too, depending upon the FAA investigation into the pilot deviation. There's either required additional training or you have your license suspended for a period of time, it may be weeks or it may be months, depending upon the severity of the incident. So there is the punitive approach to this problem and there is the instructional approach as well. I just want to go back to what I said before, and this isn't just Air Line Pilots Association speaking, this is the industry task force for runway incursions that was part of the FAA RE and D advisory committee back in 1991. We worked from 1991 through 1993. The number one recommendation was to define more clearly the roles and responsibilities of the pilots and the controllers for ground operations. Without doing that, you're not going to get development of proper procedures, you're not going to be able to train to those procedures that are developed properly and you're not going to get the benefits out of those new signs, marking, lighting, or any of the new automated systems. You have to do that, and the FAA recognized that when they started that process, but then dropped it in 1994.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. What about thethank you very much, John, I appreciate your such a great professional and great record and history of experience in this arena and made such an enormous contribution.
Mr. Landsberg, the Flight Safety Foundation, is again a leader in safety. But what about the suggestion of annual, recurring training for general aviation pilots?
Mr. LANDSBERG. An excellent point and it is the Air Safety Foundation. Flight Safety Foundation is another entity from us.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Excuse me, excuse me
Mr. LANDSBERG. There is
Mr. OBERSTAR. I know the difference and I didn't mean to confuse them.
Mr. LANDSBERG. Thank you. There is a requirement for pilotgeneral aviation pilottraining every 2 years, called the biennial flight review. In this, it is the pilot and the flight instructor have a list of certain items that they're supposed to accomplish, including in that is a review of FAR part 91, which makes it fairly clear as to pilot responsibilities and how they should operate. If the pilot is operating into an area of control towers and so forth, it's incumbent upon the flight instructor to cover those kinds of issues. If a pilot should have a runway incursion, it is the FAA's responsibility to do very much as Mr. O'Brien has mentioned, that pilot can either be remanded for remedial training or his certificate can be suspended for a period of time and I'm not sure how the FAA has applied these sanctions traditionally, but the regulations already reside on the books.
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In fact, we have two specific regulations under part 91. One that says you will adhere to all clearances, so you can put one bullet in the pilot then if he doesn't adhere to a clearance that the controller gives him; and second, it's kind of the catch-all that says careless and reckless operation, and if there's any reason to believe that the pilot is being at all reckless, then you can violate him then that way. So, I think there's ample opportunity if you feel the need to punish a pilot, to do so under the existing regulations and it's very much up to the FAA to determine the circumstances. As I mentioned earlier, most of these transgressions are absolutely unintentional and so the challenge for us is to figure out how to resolve some of them.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Some years ago, following the Cerritos, California mid-air collision, this committee moved aggressively to require the FAA to promulgate a rule making and to install TCAS, Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems, aboard aircraft, and Mode C transponders aboard general aviation aircraft who wished to operate in the TCA, Terminal Control Area. Now, the principle was you want to play with the big boys, then you operate like the big boys. Maybe we need to go the next step further. You want to operate in Class B airspace at busy airports, then you have to go through a certain training in order to be certified to operate in that area or you aren't going to be allowed into that airspace.
Mr. LANDSBERG. Under the existing regulations, we already have those requirements. If you're going to operate in there under part 61 of the FARs, it says that, first off, as you've already heard earlier this morning, student pilots are not allowed to operate in those airports. Private pilots, if they elect to go into those airports have, in theory, I don't know about practice, but in theory, should have been tested on that and be able to operate into those environments. I would also say, and I can't say this with absolute certainty, but we can submit it for the record, I'm not sure that you're having a lot of your incursion problems at the busiest airports with general aviation, in other words, the O'Hare's or the Minneapolis-St Paul's, or something like that. I think they're probably occurring more in some of the smaller airports.
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[The information received follows:]
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. O'Brien?
Mr. O'BRIEN. I think I'd agree with that. If you go back to a statement that Mr. Landsberg made earlier, and look at the runway incursion accidents that resulted in the highest number of fatalities, it's air carrier with air carrier, and of course, that makes sense, that's where all the people are.
The question of training, I think, is one that would apply equally to the general aviation pilot and to the air carrier pilot. Several years ago, the FAA had a program called back to basics. The program looked at several basic training issues. One of the issues was visual scan patterns. When you look out the windshield, how do you look to try to spot traffic? Most of the pilots who had military training had visual scan training as part of the training, but there was no such thing in any of the airline programs, and there's probably very little of it emphasized in general aviation as well. You're going to get some basic training in that area, but it's not reinforced over and over and over again.
So the real issue is how well is the criteria set up for this initial qualification for the private pilot? Depending upon where you take your pilot training makes a difference. If you're in close proximity to a large airport, you probably will get some familiarization with operating in dense traffic areas, but if you're out where there isn't a dense traffic area in close proximity to you, you're probably not going to get that kind of training.
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With the airlines specific training for pilots on say, basic communication skills or scan patterns or ground operations, in most cases willnot occur unless you have an effort like Northwest didas a result of their incidents and accidentsor unless the FAA mandate it. Now when your talking about FAA mandating specific airline training requirements, you're talking about considerable sums of money. Just add minutes to a basic airline training program, like the United program, that's millions of dollars. So, there's also this cost justification thing that the FAA is bound to go through as far as implementing requirements like that.
I don't say that in defense of the current FAA position or as a reason not to increase training requirements. We, from the pilot's perspective, think that there should be more of an emphasis on this kind of training, but again it's a tradeoff. Do you reduce the security training someplace and increase the ground operations training or do you just add it as a little additional block of time, to existing programs? I can tell that if a rule came out requiring that, probably all of the airlines would object to it, just based upon a cost basis. That's an issue that we don't have time to get into now. I still would like to take youI know I'm repeating myselfbut I'd still like to take you back to what I said before. Before you can do that kind of training, we really need to get at that issue of roles and responsibilities on the ground, for ground operations because there is a loophole there and you can't have good training without good definitions, good standards, good criteria.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I agree with that. I think that's extremely important. Good, clear definition, clear standards, clearly understood, recurring training to be familiar with all that a pilot is required to know and respond to in that terminal environment and that just means repetition. Doing it over and over again.
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I have just a comment about the observation. I think I would agree generally, Mr. Landsberg, that GA mistakes are inadvertent and unintentional, however, you may have heard my comment at the outset of the hearing. On Tuesday afternoon while I was awaiting my flight out of the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport, I was listening into the ground controller talking to general aviation movement at the airport and this pilot was, first of all did not read back; second, moved onto the active runway, instead of using the taxiway which is available, and just as that was happening, the airport manager was saying to me, ''Now watch what happens here.''
These general aviation pilots, and some of the air taxi operators, disregard the taxiway, don't read back, and want to use the active runway to operate, and then one, two, three, each of those happened in quick succession. You know, he just threw his hands up in the air. I was furious. The controller got after this guy and finally he said, ''Yes, I understand, I'm moving off and I'll go back on the taxiway,'' The controller gave him a stern lecture. You know, that was not unintentional, that was clear disobedience. This airport doesn't have 200,000 operations a year, it isn't congested, so we can take chances, think some of the pilots and you know, that's when you have the mistakes, right?
Mr. LANDSBERG. I think you're characterizingfirst off, I'm appalled; second, I would say, if I had a shot at the guy, I'd suspend his license for 30 days without any question whatsoever and I'd say remedial training and there's no further discussion on this and the next time it happens, you're out of here.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I like your response.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LANDSBERG. So, I also think that if we looked at the overall cross-section of accidentsor incidentsthe incursions, we would find that the vast, vast majority of them is somebody who's trying to get from one place on the airport to another and either, one, wasn't sure where they are and thought they were doing the right thing, or was distracted by something and rolled through a whole short line. I think that you've got two different responses. In one case, you shoot the guy and in the other case you say, well, we obviously need to do some education here. This doesn't lessen the potential severity of what you've done, but it's, I guess like anything in justice, there's an element of intent that makes a big difference.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. I just want to make another observation, that I think in recent yearsthe last 3, 4 yearsI've noticed a great deal more ground clutter, ground traffic moving on the airport surface, and I think that airports have to do a much greater job of controlling and limiting the amount of traffic.
Mr. LANDSBERG. You're talking about vehicles?
Mr. OBERSTAR. Vehicles. Ground vehicles, right.
Final question is there is an increasing practice at some of our busiest commercial airports to direct the arriving aircraft to land and hold short in order to increase output at that airport. I'd like, Mr. O'Brien, I'd like to have your response to that practice and what questions it may raise for safety.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Well, land and hold short is an operational technique to increase airport capacity.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Traffic is increasing and especially at the busiest times in the day, the overall traffic count may not go up, percentage wise, in a day, but there are very busy times, pushes, during certain times of the day at busy airportsat the hubs. Airport configurations include intersecting runways. Under normal conditions, you would never have an airplane taking off on one runway and landing on an intersecting runway. You just don't do that. But in the name of capacity increases, we're doing that today, especially at airports that have long runways. Years ago, we agreed to try this on a trial basis, on a demonstration basis, on a limited basis. That demonstration has been going on for 14 years now and it's grown from 1 airport to 50 or more airports.
We're in the process of working with FAA now trying to develop standards for such operations. There's a proposal to conduct such operations at night, under wet runway conditions or inclement weather conditions. Again, all under the name of capacity. We have specific concerns about aircraft performance, being able to stop, come to a complete stop at an intersecting runway under these conditions. We're also concerned about all of the factors that have been talked about in this runway incursion problem: communications, standard procedure, training.
All of the factors that cause runway incursions are similar to the factors that need to be addressed in land and hold short operations. What we're doing, in land and hold short operations, is cutting or reducing our safety margins by taking away some runway that would normally be available for use. So, we have some concerns about that. We're not saying that it can't be done safely, but we need to agree upon standards before we go any further, especially before we get into wet runway operations or these kind of operations at night.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much for that very thoughtful observation. It's a matter of great concern to me and I think we need to visit in more depth about it than we can do in the course of a hearing. When you say we're operating within the minimal margin of safety, with the minimum standards, it raises an age old question: What is safety? What is the definition of safety? And I apply the following: The relative absence of risk. That's something we need to think about in the course of our consideration of runway incursions.
Thank you very much for a very thoughtful hearing, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Oberstar. You always add so much to these hearings and I really appreciate it.
Let me just go back to something I said earlier. I think that apparently the best thing that we can do is to continue to call attention to this problem. We need to let every pilot in this country and every air traffic controller in this country and every person who operates a vehicle on the runways and every airport operator, know that runway incursions are increasing at an alarming rate. Until we see them start going down we need to do that, because, you know, people let their guards down and so we need to continue to try to alert people that this is a problem and it's a serious problem and a growing problem.
You know, even though most of these instance may be unintentional, you know, in most States if I go out here and accidentally hit somebody with my automobile and cause serious damage, it may be unintentional and I'm still held liable for it. I think we need to take very tough action against pilots who cause serious runway incursions and we need to doI particularly, Mr. Landsberg, liked some of the suggestions that you've made today and I like the lighting system that Mr. Jolly's company has come up with, I think that's a thing that we need to really take a much closer look at.
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I appreciate very much your being here. I apologize that we had this hearing interrupted with all those votes, but you certainly have added a great deal to this discussion and I appreciate it.
Thank you very much. That will conclude this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 1:30 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]