SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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RUNWAY INCURSIONS FOCUSING ON THE TECHNOLOGY TO PREVENT COLLISIONS
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
JUNE 26, 2001
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Vice-Chair
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
STEPHEN HORN, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
MIKE ROGERS, Michigan
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia
MARK STEVEN KIRK, Illinois
HENRY E, BROWN, Jr., South Carolina
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois
BRIAN D. KERNS, Indiana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCDENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana
TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania
MIKE FERGUSON, New Jersey
SAM GRAVES, Missouri
C.L. (BUTCH) OTTER, Idaho
MARK R. KENNEDY, Minnesota
JOHN ABNEY CULBERSON, Texas
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCGENE 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
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
BRAD CARSON, Oklahoma
JIM MATHESON, Utah
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION
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JOHN L. MICA, Florida, Chairman
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
STEPHEN HORN, California
JACK QUINN, New York
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana, Vice Chairman
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
MARK STEVEN KIRK, Illinois
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois
DENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana
SAM GRAVES, Missouri
MARK R. KENNEDY, Minnesota
JOHN ABNEY CULBERSON, Texas
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
DON YOUNG, Alaska
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, JR., New Jersey
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
BRAD CARSON, Oklahoma
JIM MATHESON, Utah
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Boyer, Phil, President, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Carmody, Carol, Acting Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
Carr, John, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Davis, William S., Director, Runway Safety Program, Federal Aviation Administration, accompanied by Mr. Steve Zaidman, Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions
Mead, Kenneth R., Inspector General, Department of Transportation
Rutty, John G., American Airlines Captain (retired)
Ryan, Jack, Acting Senior Vice President, Aviation Safety and Operations with the Air Transport Association of America
Woerth, Captain Duane, President, Air Line Pilots Association
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
Lipinski, Hon. William O., of Illinois
Oberstar, Hon. James L., of Minnesota
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Mead, Kenneth R
Rutty, John G
Woerth, Captain Duane
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
ADSI, Inc., statement
Cargo Airline Association, Stephen A. Alterman, President, statement
Exchange of letters between Rep. John L. Mica, a Representative in Congress from Florida, and Carol Carmody, Acting Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
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Garvey, Hon. Jane F., Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, letter, December 27, 2001
Huthoefer, Gerald W., Air Traffic Controller, Gulfport-Biloxi, statement
AMASS updates, chart
RUNWAY INCURSIONS, FOCUSING ON THE TECHNOLOGY TO PREVENT COLLISIONS
Tuesday, June 26, 2001
House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, Washington, D.C.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:17 p.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John L. Mica [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Mr. MICA. Good afternoon. I would like to call this hearing of the House Aviation Subcommittee to order.
I apologize for the delay in beginning the proceedings today, but we did have votes. Hopefully, we will be able to go for about an hour and a-half here without further interruptions.
The order of business today will be opening statements by members, and then we have two panels to hear from. Of course, the topic of today's hearing is runway incursions, and we are focusing on technology to prevent collisions.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will go ahead and recognize myself for an opening statement and then will yield to other members as they join us.
Today, as I said, we have convened this hearing to review an important safety issue, and that is the growing problem of airport runway incursions. Runways incursions, in fact, are one of the most significant hazards of aviation today. In fact, the accident that caused the greatest loss of life in aviation history was the result of a runway incursion. I am speaking of course of the 1977 collision on the Canary Islands in which 583 people lost their lives.
The FAA has published four plans in the past decade designed to reduce the number of runway incursions and accidents. In spite of these plans, the number of runway incursions in the United States, unfortunately, has been steadily increasing. We have had an increase from 186 in 1993 to some 431 in the year 2000. Already in this year, 2001, there have been 166 recorded incursions. The numbers of incursions continue to rise.
With more airport congestion, with more takeoffs and landings, I believe we are courting disaster if we do not get the problem of runway incursions under control. One near collision occurred just last month at Reagan National Airport. Another occurred recently at Dallas-Fort Worth, when an American Airlines jet nearly collided with a cargo plane. This latter incident illustrates what we see in so many cases, that a loss of situational awareness by a pilot can have tragic results. Controllers had, in fact, cleared the cargo plane to cross the runway, but after doing so, the pilots made a wrong turn back onto the runway. The American flight, with 60 people on board, had to lift off before reaching the proper takeoff speed because the cargo plane was in its path. The American flight crew estimated that they missed the other aircraft by just 20 feet, 10 to 20 feet. Pretty close call.
Compared to the advanced technology that is available for airborne operations, the technology for surface navigation and communications unfortunately remains quite primitive. Pilots still navigate using paper charts of airport layouts, looking out the cockpit windows for taxiway and runway signs to guide them. Again, pretty primitive procedures in a day of unlimited technology. At most airports, controllers still control surface traffic by looking out the tower window to determine the identity, location, and the movement of aircraft on the taxiways and on the runways.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The purpose of this hearing today is to focus on where we are with technology development and what it will require to deploy modern technology to assist pilots and our air traffic controllers.
DOT's Office of Inspector General has just completed an in-depth audit on this subject and will be announcing the results of that audit at our hearing today.
The only technologies that the Federal Aviation Administration has commissioned to date to help prevent runway incursions are the ASDE-3 radar and the Airport Movement Area Safety System, also known as AMASS. Like other air traffic control modernization programs, unfortunately, AMASS is behind schedule and grossly over budget. After nearly ten years of effort, the FAA announced last month that they approved the AMASS system for deployment to some 34 airports.
Unfortunately, the version of the AMASS that is currently being commissioned is, in fact, a shadow of its former self. The system has not achieved the capability that was originally intended. And the NTSB says that the current version will not eliminate all runway incursions or even all runway collisions. Not only does AMASS deliver less than was originally intended, its delivery has been delayed and its costs have soared.
In 1993, the FAA estimated that it would cost $59.8 million to provide 40 AMASS systems, with the last supposedly to be commissioned in 1996. In 1997, however, this subcommittee held a hearing where FAA testified for the record that the 40 AMASS systems that, again, had just been promised, would cost some $74.1 million and be commissioned by last August. The FAA insisted, and let me quote their words, this is their quote from that hearing, ''We see no significant risks on the horizon today. The programs are proceeding on schedule and we have confidence that these dates will be met.'' Despite this statement of confidence, only two AMASS systems have so far been commissioned. It now appears that AMASS will not be fully commissioned until November of 2002, and will cost in fact about $150 million, almost double the estimate given us in 1997. This, unfortunately, sounds familiar.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have got another vote pending. They have called five minute votes, so we are going to have to recess the hearing for about ten minutes. When we come back I will finish my opening statement and we will proceed. I apologize.
Mr. MICA. I would like to reconvene the hearing.
I was in the process of concluding my opening statement. Basically, I have said that the AMASS program is some six years behind schedule and dramatically over budget. I know that some of this will sound familiar to members of our Aviation Subcommittee who have attended our recent oversight hearings on other FAA systems, such as STARS. Unfortunately, AMASS appears to be yet another example of an FAA system that takes twice as long, does half as much, and costs three times what it was originally projected.
But some form of AMASS at least is being deployed at last. We are eager to have this opportunity today to discuss both its capabilities and shortcomings, as well as other technology that might be used in the future to prevent runway incursions.
We will also hear today from Captain John Rutty, who has been working on anti-blocking radio equipment for some 20 years. Everyone from the pilots to the FAA to the NTSB seems to agree that blocked radio transmissions are a significant safety problem. But nothing seems to have been done to deal with this problem or to fix it. I think we are interested in learning why.
I would also like to recognize at the outset that the composition of our first panel, a rather large and distinguished group that is gathered here today, includes two agency heads and one non-agency head. I want to thank Acting Chairman Carmody and Inspector General Mead for their indulgence in this matter. We have put the panel together in this order, not for preference of rank or to rankle anybody's rank, but to expedite today's proceeding. We appreciate your working with us to allow this hearing to proceed in this fashion.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look forward to the witnesses' views and the testimony of our two panels today.
I would like to recognize at this time Mr. Lipinski, our Ranking Member.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We on the Democratic side will put our statements in the record. And I yield fifteen seconds to Mr. Ehlers.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you for yielding. I appreciate that. I just wanted to say I am very happy to have this hearing, but I also wanted to mention this topic is one of the few that we consider that does have a solution, one that we can do and that we must implement. I am confident that we can resolve the problem; it is just a matter of developing the system that will deal with it. It is certainly more tractable than a lot of other things we deal with here. Thank you. I yield back.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I take back my time and I yield back my time to the Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. Are there any other opening statements?
Mr. MICA. Being no further opening statements, we will get right to the business before us.
Our witnesses on our first panel consist of Carol Carmody, who is the Acting Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board; we also have Kennedy R. Mead, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation; and we have Mr. William S. Davis, Director of Runway Safety at the Federal Aviation Administration, and he is accompanied by Mr. Steve Zaidman, Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions for the FAA. I think Mr. Davis brought some of his family members. Maybe when we recognize him, he can introduce them for the panel.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let us start first with Carol Carmody, Acting Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Incidently, I think some of you have been here before, but if you have not, if you have lengthy statements or documents you may want made part of the record, please indicate a request and they will be included as part of the record. We would like you to summarize your oral testimony before the subcommittee, if possible.
So with that, let us recognize Carol Carmody. Welcome.
TESTIMONY OF HON. CAROL J. CARMODY, ACTING CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD; HON. KENNETH R. MEAD, INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; AND WILLIAM DAVIS, DIRECTOR, RUNWAY SAFETY PROGRAM, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, ACCOMPANIED BY STEVEN ZAIDMAN, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESEARCH AND ACQUISITIONS
Ms. CARMODY. Thank you, Chairman Mica. Good afternoon, members of the committee. I would ask that my formal statement be included in the record and I will summarize.
Mr. MICA. Without objection, the entire statement will be made part of the record. Please proceed.
Ms. CARMODY. Thank you. According to FAA data, there were 431 runway incursions in the U.S. in 2000. That is more than twice the 200 incursions that occurred in 1994, and represents a significant increase from the 321 in 1999. As of yesterday, June 25th, there were 200 runway incursions plus two that are still under investigation. That compares to 198 for the same period of time last year. So the numbers are not going in the right direction. Just yesterday, there were four events that occurredone at Washington National, one at O'Hare, one at Tucson, and one at JFK which is under investigation.
As requested by the committee, I would like to show a simulation or an animation of a runway incident that occurred at Chicago O'Hare International. We are showing it because it emphasizes some of our concerns. This incursion occurred on April 1, 1999, when an Air China Boeing 747 deviated from its assigned taxi route and mistakenly made a left turn back onto an active runway from where it had just landed. At the same time, a Korean Air Boeing 747 was taking off and approaching rotation speed on the active runway. The Korean Air pilot saw the other aircraft, abruptly rotated, lifted off early, and banked to the left to avoid a collision.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, you will see an overhead depiction showing the location of the two aircraft, then we will begin the animation and you will see the Korean jet as it proceeds down the runway, spots the Air China jet, and takes off early to avoid a collision. You will hear the sounds of the radio transmissions, first the taxi clearance for Air China and their acknowledgement, then the clearance for Korean Air and their acknowledgement. I think if my staff is ready back there, we can go ahead and start.
This is the depiction of where the aircraft actually were. On the right is the Air China. It should have gone up to the runway on the right of the picture. Instead, it made a left turn and was crossing the actual runway. Going straight up is the Korean 747.
Now we can move to the actual simulation.
[Control tower/Air China conversation played.]
Ms. CARMODY. What you heard was advice to Air China and their acknowledgement. In a moment you will hear the Korean Air.
[Control tower/Korean Air conversation played.]
Ms. CARMODY. Now you have just heard the tower clearing the Korean jet to take off and their acknowledgement. In a second or so, you will see the aircraft start to roll down the runway, it will gain speed, and fortunately it acquired enough speed to take off when it saw the Air China jet coming in from the right. Before long you will be able to see the Air China jet, on the right, starting to enter the runway. You will also hear the controller shout ''Stop.'' when he saw the Air China jet approaching. Even so, the Korean jet passed over Air China, with 75 feet to spare. The two aircraft held 390 people.
Had there been an AMASS, which there was not, the alert would have sounded at about the same time as the controller shouted. In just a few seconds more here you will see, on the right coming in, the gray shape of the Air China jet approaching the active runway. The comptroller, ''Stop.''
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Control tower/Korean Air conversation played.]
Ms. CARMODY. There was discussion saying what happened there. Now this is one last view. Air China is on the left and coming towards us will be the Korean jet. This just gives you a better picture of how close they were.
Following that runway incursion, the Safety Board asked the FAA to demonstrate how AMASS would have performed had it been available. The simulation showed that the oral and visual alert parameters currently used would not have provided controllers and flight crews enough time to react and intervene to maintain a safe separation.
Since 1991, the Safety Board has recommended that the FAA expedite funding, development, and implementation of technology to prevent runway incursions. The FAA indicated their primary weapon to do so to reduce incursions was the AMASS system, which stands for Airport Movement Area Safety System. In March 2000, nine years after our original recommendation, and based on the FAA's response and progress, the Board classified this recommendation as ''Open-Unacceptable.'' The Board simply does not believe, Mr. Chairman, that AMASS as currently designed meets the safety goals of the original system. You said so in your testimony as well.
The video you have just seen was important because it illustrates graphically the importance of alerting pilots as well as controllers of impending incursions. Something as simple as stop bars installed at O'Hare would have alerted the pilot before he crossed the runway.
In July 2000, following a special public hearing on runway incursions, the Safety Board recommended that the FAA require a ground movement safety system that would provide a direct warning to pilots as well as controllers. Split seconds count in these instances and the crew needs to have as much time as possible to take action. As you saw in Chicago, there was not enough time. Last summer we made five additional recommendations that dealt with operational measures designed to improve safety, such as: requiring separate clearances for each runway crossing; not holding aircraft on active runways at night or in periods of reduced visibility; not issuing multiple landing clearances; and using standard ICAO phraseology. The FAA has not implemented any of these recommendations.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, the FAA has done much on the subject of runway incursions. They have taken numerous actions in response to the Safety Board recommendations, as well as to recommendations by the DOT Inspector General. But it is disconcerting that the numbers are still increasing. Progress is not being made.
Despite a decade of research and development, six FAA administrators, millions of dollars, and six runway incursion program managers, this issue is still not being adequately addressed. Unless more is done soon to prevent runway incursions, it is just a matter of time before we have a disastrous runway collision.
That concludes my testimony, Mr. Chairman. I will take any questions.
Mr. MICA. Thank you. We will withhold questions until we have heard from all of the panelists.
Let me recognize now Mr. Ken Mead, who is the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation. Welcome, and you are recognized, sir.
Mr. MEAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think it is important at the outset here that we understand that these extreme cases of runway incursions require radical instantaneous action to avoid a collision between aircraft. This is the third report that we have issued on this subject since 1998.
As my colleague, Acting Chairman Carmody, notes, reducing runway incursions has been on the National Transportation Safety Board's 'Most wanted'' list of transportation safety improvements for a decade, and with good reason. Runway incursions, in our opinion, are probably the most serious safety issue facing the aviation system today. They continue to increase year after year. I think the aviation community, the travelling public has been most fortunate there has not been a tragedy of the magnitude that happened in Tenerife when two 747s collided in 1977.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before overviewing what FAA has been doing about runway incursions and, more importantly, what more FAA ought to be doing, I would like to give the perspective of some statistics.
This chart going up over here, I do not expect you to see the numbers, but the blue bars on that chart show the disturbing and growing trend line for runway incursions. I will read the numbers for you: 431 in 2000; 292 in 1997; 200 in 1994. So they have doubled since 1994. The blue bar for 2001 shows we are headed for another year like 2000. The yellow bar shows what the FAA's goals are, which there is no hope at all of meeting this year. About 60 percent of runway incursions on the blue bar are due to pilot error, Mr. Chairman. The remainder are about split between air traffic controller errors and vehicles being where they ought not to be on runways.
Mr. Chairman, after more than five years of this disturbing trend line, FAA started classifying runway incursions by degree of severity this year. This is long overdue but it is going to better position FAA to better set priorities and take corrective actions. In its report of last week, FAA said it was encouraged that the great majority of runway incursions are relatively minor and that they pose little chance of a collision. That observation though ought not to obscure the fact that about 20 percent, or 256, of these runway incursions were close calls, so close that a collision was barely avoided. Here is a chart on close calls. As that bar chart shows, the number of close calls has not gone down. They are staying in the neighborhood of 59 to 66 a year for several years. This chart also shows that at least one commercial airliner, represented by the blue bar, was involved in 65 percent of the very close calls in the United States.
Now our audit work shows that for the past several years FAA has, indeed, placed substantial management emphasis and focus on reducing runway incursionsmore dollars, more training, better runway signs and lighting, procedures for operating in poor visibility, three runway incursion reduction plans, runway incursion summits, and numerous conferences. So why are the numbers all headed in the wrong direction? What can be done to reverse the trend?
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We found two significant factors that are severely constraining FAA's progress that need to be corrected. First, they have not done enough to provide technologies to airports with runway incursion problems. Second, there has been little continuity or stability in the runway safety program director. There have been six directors in five years, and that director has little authority to ensure that initiatives undertaken by FAA employees responsible for runway safety are actually completed, or that those employees are held accountable for their performance. I would like to elaborate briefly.
The very slow pace of fielding technology, the failure to move forward expeditiously with promising new technology is a major part of the problem and, hence, must be focused on as a major part of the solution. Airports with runway incursion problems need technology. Since 1991, as you pointed out, FAA has been developing the Airport Movement Area Safety System, AMASS for short, at 34 of the largest airports. That is really a software enhancement to a radar that is designed to alert air traffic controllers of impending runway conflicts. It has experienced $86 million in cost increases and is about six years late, mostly due to software development and operational problems. The radar to which it is attached was itself many years late and millions over budget.
This month, FAA commissioned its first two systems at San Francisco and Detroit. There remains uncertainty as to how well it is going to work and it is doubtful, in our opinion, whether FAA's deployment schedule at additional airports will be met. One concern area is that AMASS experiences problems with false alerts, which in itself can present a safety problem.
Anyway, FAA has made progress with this problem at San Francisco and Detroit. But there are 32 airports left to go and each airport presents its own particular issue with this technology.
Now I would want to stress that most of FAA's major technology efforts have focused on helping controllers prevent accidents, although pilot error continues to be the leading cause of runway incursions. FAA needs to expedite technologies like in-cockpit moving maps and Automatic Dependent Surveillance, called ADS-B for short. These technologies in fact have the greatest potential for reducing these incursions. And the pace here has been too slow.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why is this particular technology so important? Well, because they recreate a redundancy, it is a second set of eyes, by including pilots in the loop to help the pilot see where they are and where other objects are on the runway. Currently, pilots are largely dependent on the controller to alert them to collision hazards. The current situation is somewhat analogous to being in a car and receiving a cell phone call to watch out for a truck that you cannot see.
Lastly, improvements in program oversight are needed. Initiatives are not completed on time, completed initiatives are not evaluated to determine if they are working. An important factor here is that the Runway Safety Director has little authority to ensure that employees from other lines of business in FAA are fully supporting the Runway Safety Program mission. The director, in our opinion, ought to have the ability to hold people accountable and provide input on their performance appraisals and on the decision of whether or not they get a bonus. That, we think, would be consistent with FAA's efforts to establish itself as a results-based organization.
As for the recommendations in our report, Mr. Chairman, FAA agreed to most of them. But there are two in particular that I would like to cite.
FAA's response to our recommendations on expediting new technologies and strengthening the director's authority over the Runway Safety Program and holding people accountable was ambiguous, noncommittal, and we have no idea what their milestones are for implementing those recommendations. So we will be requesting the FAA Administrator to reexamine those issues and provide some specific dates for implementation.
That concludes my oral statement, sir.
Mr. MICA. Thank you.
We will recognize now Mr. William S. Davis, Director of Runway Safety for the Federal Aviation Administration. Welcome, and you are recognized, sir.
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Mr. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my wife, Karlyn, and my son, Tommy, who are in the audience.
Mr. MICA. I am going to ask them stand up. Is that them in the back there? Thank you.
Mr. DAVIS. I asked them to attend today so they could fully understand the problem that we are up against. I have submitted a formal statement and request that it be entered in the record.
Mr. MICA. Without objection, your entire statement will be made part of the record. Please proceed.
Mr. DAVIS. Chairman Mica, Congressman Lipinski, members of the subcommittee, my name is Bill Davis, I am the Director of the FAA's Runway Safety Program. I am happy to appear before you this afternoon to testify on this important issue regarding runway safety.
Administrator Garvey is committed to a better understanding of why runway incursions happen. We feel that better information on runway incursions will help us be more effective in determining how the risk can be reduced. Despite continued efforts by the FAA to reduce the number of runway incursions in the past years, the total number of runway incursions has increased and the number of major runway incursions, those that pose the most significant threat to safety, have remained steady. Everyone agrees that this is unacceptable.
The FAA recently released a report on runway safety that analyzed every reported runway incursion that occurred from 1997 through 2000, a total of 1,369 incidents. Every incursion that we looked at had a common threadhuman error, whether the error was made by a controller or a pilot, a driver or a pedestrian. This is why the problem of runway incursions is so difficult to resolve. As we have long known, to err is human, and always will be. Our challenge is to minimize the results of human error so that the risk to safety is limited.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the reasons we feel that the recently released report is important is that we believe we can better manage what we can better measure. The analysis in the report represents a different, and I believe better, way of measuring runway incursions by the risk they impose. By focusing for the first time on the severity of incursions, we can better target our resources. If we can bring down the number of major runway incursions, the category A and B events I described in my prepared statement, that represent about 20 percent of all incursions, safety will be improved, even if the overall number of incursions remains the same. That is where technologies like AMASS and ASDE-X will be helpful. They will not prevent incursions, they will help controllers better recognize developing situations and improve overall runway safety.
In addition to technology, we are working with our partners in the aviation industry on education, communications, training, and procedures. We are working with airports on runway signs and lighting. We are committed to exploring all initiatives that have the potential to effectively improve runway safety. The more information we have the better we can understand the problem and target our solutions.
Over a thousand runway safety improvement ideas were collected at a recent National Runway Safety Summit held in June of 2000. Out of these thousand recommendations, 50 roll-up initiatives were created and 10 near-term initiatives were identified. Of the ten near-term initiatives, four are complete, two will be complete next month, two will be complete by the end of the fiscal year, and the remaining two will be complete in the Spring of 2002.
My office was created to focus even greater attention on the issue of runway incursions and how best to improve runway safety in our Nation. For the first time, we are categorizing runway incursions based on the level of risk they pose. For the first time, we have nine runway safety program managers in our regional offices to work on our National Runway Safety Program at the local level. For the first time, we are developing more comprehensive reporting requirements to obtain data that will not only tell what happened, but tell why runway incursions happen. Understanding the whys of runway incursions is the key to reducing both the severity and number of events.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that the issue of runway safety is a top priority for the FAA. I have accepted this job because I want to make a difference in an area that needs improvement. I look forward to working with this committee as we start to better understand runway incursions and implement what needs to be done to improve runway safety.
As mentioned, with me is Mr. Steve Zaidman, the Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions. We will happy to answer any of your questions. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. Thank you.
Let us get right into some questions, if I may. First of all, the AMASS program sounds like it is not atypical of some of the other programs that we have in FAA where we are trying to develop a technology to assist in air traffic controlbehind schedule as far as development and over cost. Mr. Mead, I have heard conflicting reports about how much over budget this is. Did you say three times the initial cost?
Mr. MEAD. I think this was initially supposed to come in around $50-$60 million. Now it is up to about $150 million.
Mr. MICA. And I am told that it is six years behind schedule, approximately.
Mr. MEAD. Yes. And this is really a software attachment for radar, a radar called ASDE. And ASDE itself was many years late.
Mr. MICA. Is this just developed for commercial use, or is this also a military developmental project?
Mr. MEAD. Well, this I believe was started as an FAA project in response to runway incursions. The original Airport Surface Detection Equipment, that is the model, its original cost was projected at $83 million. Its current cost is around $250 million. Part of that number includes an increase in the number of units. The AMASS system, the software, that was originally $59 million, and now it is projected at $146 million. And each one of those was late by many years.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. The other thing, too, I found that we have some FAA and departmental responsibility for the delays, and then we have some vendors. Now what is the history of the vendors on this? Mr. Zaidman, maybe you can tell us. Who is the contractor now, who has had it, what is the history of the contracting?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. The current contractor, Mr. Chairman, is Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Mr. MICA. How long have they had it?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. That contract was awarded when they took over from Westinghouse.
Mr. MICA. From the beginning?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Let me start at the beginning, if I may. In 1996, we initiated a contract with Anordon Corporation in Connecticut. That corporation was subsequently bought out by the Westinghouse Corporation in the mid-1990s, which several years later was then bought out by Northrop Grumman.
Mr. MICA. So we have been through three vendors at least.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Yes. But the contracts are the same.
Mr. MICA. Have there been subcontractors in this too, or does Northrop Grumman have the whole enchilada?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. There are some minor subs, but basically Northrop Grumman is the principal contractor.
Mr. MICA. Okay. What is the problem for the developmental delays? Maybe, Mr. Mead, you can give me your observation, and Mr. Zaidman. Usually I find that FAA has some responsibility in changing the specs or the vendor has some responsibility in not completing the package. Mr. Mead, maybe you can tell me, have you looked at this?
Mr. MEAD. Yes. We looked at both the underlying radar and the software enhancement that provides alerts. There have been software development issues with each of them, as there are with many software intensive acquisitions, whether they are done by FAA or anybody else. But also in this case, one of the problems has been that the AMASS is supposed to provide an alert to the controller of an impending runway incursion or a collision situation. And a false alert can be just as bad as no alert at all.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. So is this a problem of the contractor developing something that does not meet the specs, or is this a problem with FAA not being specific enough in the product they wanted to be delivered? What is the developmental problem? Mr. Zaidman?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. I will be happy to give you my perspective. I think there is a shared responsibility, both FAA's and the contractor's.
Mr. MICA. There usually is. Tell us how it goes.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Yes. On the FAA's side, I believe we were overly optimistic in attributing what the technology could or could not do in terms of anticipating a future event, such as a runway accident or even an incursion. We misread the amount of anticipation that the technology could give us and, therefore, expected more from AMASS than the system could legitimately deliver in terms of predicting.
The problem on the contractor's side is, AMASS depends, as Mr. Mead said, on a radar which was specified for this application. Radar was the only technology that existed at the time that was able to tell where the aircraft were on the airport. The problem that the vendor and we have is that radar is not designed to look down on the ground.
Mr. MICA. Is there a plan to also incorporate global satellite navigation with this?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. In the next phase, when you get into ASDE-X.
Mr. MICA. Not with AMASS?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Not with AMASS.
Mr. MICA. We have two of these commissioned AMASS and some others in test phase. Are there just two commissioned; is that correct?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. We commissioned the first two earlier this month.
Mr. MICA. But Mr. Mead says that while not delivering what it was supposed to deliver, it also delivers false alerts which can, Ms. Carmody shook her head, is also a potential problem.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ZAIDMAN. Correct. One of the problems with a radar-based technology, of which ASDE and AMASS are examples, is you do get false returns, phantom targets that are projected on the airport surface. Sometimes they are projected on the runway when actually no aircraft exists. That is a basic radar problem that comes from reflecting off of hangars and buildings and other airplanes.
Mr. MEAD. One concern, Mr. Chairman, with the San Francisco installation is that even though it is commissioned, in order to minimize the number of false alerts, they turned off some functionality at an intersecting runway. So you will not get an alert at this intersection point.
Mr. MICA. One more question. Mr. Davis, you are the sixth Director of Runway Safety in five years. Is that correct?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes, sir.
Mr. MICA. How long have you been on the job?
Mr. DAVIS. Two months and a week.
Mr. MICA. Two months and a week.
Mr. DAVIS. And two days.
Mr. MICA. It would not be fair to pick on you yet, but we will get there.
Mr. DAVIS. I have been studying hard; talking slow and reading fast.
Mr. MICA. The problem, as I analyze it, I see the same problem with your position as I do with others in FAA, is you are given certain responsibility that is sometimes undefined and not the adequate authority to actually carry out the mission. Is that sort of the problem that they have had with the position in the past? And do you see that as sort of the crux of your problem?
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. That is one of the dilemmas to the position. It is the dilemma really to any matrix style organization. This has been raised to both my Associate Administrator as well as to the Deputy Administrator for the FAA. We intend to discuss this issue as a part of the safety oversight organization which is now under review at the FAA.
Mr. MICA. Well, just in conclusion, I do not think it is unique to your position. I have found this, again, just in the last five or six months, in examining the management structure lines of organization and responsibility throughout FAA. We are going to have to look at some way to get that straightened out, including your position. So we will be talking with you in that regard.
Let me yield at this juncture to our Ranking Member, Mr. Lipinski, for questions.
Mr. LIPINSKI. And I yield my five minutes to Mr. Baldacci.
Mr. BALDACCI. If that is okay, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the Ranking Member for yielding me such time. I would like to ask Ms. Carmody, you mention in your testimony six additional recommendations on runway incursions made to the FAA on June 6, 2001. You listed three of these recommendations being in ''unacceptable'' status. Could you explain that.
Ms. CARMODY. Thank you. That was based on the FAA's response to our recommendations. As I recall, one of the ones that was in ''unacceptable'' status was our recommendation that standard ICAO phraseology be adopted. The FAA responded they were looking into this but they were not particularly inclined in that direction. I believe they cited concerns about the general aviation population having to be re-educated in different phraseology.
Another recommendation we made was to cease the practice that the FAA has of issuing multiple landing clearances and to adopt the ICAO procedure for landing clearance, which would be not to clear one aircraft until the other has already crossed the runway threshold. FAA responded, as I recall, that it would complicate operations and would probably slow things down.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There was one more, and Ms. Rolett, can you help me with what the third one was? It had to do with issuingwe recommended that individual runway clearances be issued each time a runway was crossed. The FAA again said that would add to the complexity of the controllers job and might lead to further complications and further incidents.
So those were the three.
Mr. BALDACCI. It just seemed to me from reading the testimony that a lot of things just are not necessarily technology-driven. Some of the recommendations that you bring up are just sort of common sense. And I was reading one of the pilot's comments was that a lot of signage needs to be improved out on the runway. That is not any new technology that is necessary or any scientific research and development that needs to be developed, but just better signage out there.
One of the other recommendations your Board made was it recommended that the FAA require the use of the standard ICAO phraseology for airport surface operations and periodically emphasize the use of that phraseology to controllers.
Ms. CARMODY. Yes.
Mr. BALDACCI. What benefit would this have?
Ms. CARMODY. The ICAO phraseology is International Civil Aviation Organization phraseology. That is the U.N. body that sets aviation standards internationally. They have a standard air traffic language that everybody else in the world uses. There are certain recognizable phrases in the ICAO regulations that other nations use, FAA does not.
Our point in this was that many of the pilots that are involved in these incursions are pilots whose first language is not English. If they are hearing phrases that they do not understand in a language that they are not sure of, it just increases the possibility of misunderstanding. So we have said why not go with the ICAO phraseology, and while you are at it speak slowly.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BALDACCI. Well I want to second that, because in watching this particular incident with the Chinese carrier and a Korean carrier, to be able to recognize that maybe they do not all speak the same language, if it is going to be a split second decision, you would like to think they are going to understand exactly what is taking place out there. And just about that particular incident, it was kind of striking to me, I know how tight the air space is, the pilot who did the banking to get away from the aircraft coming on, was the stop by the controller to the pilot going down the runway, or was it to the pilot coming across?
Ms. CARMODY. The stop was to the pilot that was starting to cross the runway, the Air China pilot that had been told to go to another runway, and when the controller saw he was encroaching on the active runway, it was to that plane he was shouting stop.
Mr. BALDACCI. Because it was not clear to me who is he saying ''stop'' to and whether the person could actually understand ''stop.''
Ms. CARMODY. Maybe the tone of voice was sufficient.
Mr. BALDACCI. The only other thing would have been the banking itself, knowing how limited the airspace is, if that could have created a possible near-collision. I am not sure. You would not be aware of whether there was any opportunity for any of that to happen?
Ms. CARMODY. Not anything at that time, evidently. There was no report of anything else.
Mr. BALDACCI. I would like to thank the Ranking Member for yielding me the time, and the Chairman. I look forward to working with you as we try to develop the technology but also the common sense approaches. It would be unfortunate if we had to mandate it, but I think that we need to realize that not everything is going to be technology-driven. We have got to recognize that it is a global economy and we are going to have to be a little more user-friendly. I thank the Chairman.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. Thank you.
Let me recognize the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Ehlers.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was very interested in the testimony. First of all a comment. It seems to me that a major problem that we have always had with air traffic control issues and with the FAA is a consistent under-estimation of the difficulty of writing software and handling the situation. And since I have written a fair amount of software in my life, I can certainly sympathize with that. But the point, it seems to me, would be to recognize that going in.
I also have a philosophy of life that you do not try to crack walnuts with a sledgehammer when you can do it with a nutcracker. And it seems to me that the AMASS approach may be a sledgehammer approach. The testimony says that the problem is pilot error. And I am not sure the best system is to have the controller find out there is a problem and then have him then warn the pilot. It would be much better to have a warning for the pilot immediately.
I can think of a lot of very simple, direct methods of handling this without software, such as whenever a runway is cleared for take-off, that you could have on all the taxiways crossing it the bumper bars, as Ms. Carmody called them, or something that automatically pops up and prevents anyone from crossing the runway. An even simpler one, since you use lights extensively in runways, taxiways, and so forth, is have very bright flashing red lights as soon as a runway becomes active so that the pilots can immediately see that. It is pretty hard to ignore that day or night, and all of us are trained to stop when we see red lights. There are a number of simple methods and I think we should use those.
I would also certainly support the suggestion of Ms. Carmody that air traffic controllers might speak more slowly. I fly in the cockpit occasionally, as many members of this committee do, and I am just astounded at the difference between controllers. I have found that invariably when they have a controller who speaks slowly and clearly there is never a request to repeat. I have heard others where there is constant requests to repeat. Clearly, in an emergency situation you do not have time to repeat.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My question is addressed to Ms. Carmody, and Ken Mead, if he wishes to answer. Carol, your agency does a lot of good analysis of events such as this or accidents. Since most of this is pilot error, have you analyzed at all the pilot factors that might come into this, such as: the experience that the respective pilots have had in each incursion; the training that they might have received; is there a difference between foreign pilots and American pilots in terms of the number of incursions and potential accidents; and something else we have looked at here before, of course, and that is fatigue. The Air China pilot most likely came in from a very lengthy flight. Was there a fatigue factor in any of these flights? Have you looked at the variables, and I am sure there are others you could identify, and have you picked out what really might be the major contribution to the pilot error?
Ms. CARMODY. Yes and no. When there has been an accident we look at all factors and, in some cases, and I may defer to Mr. Haueter, who is the Deputy in Aviation, in some cases some of the factors you have mentioned are germane. With respect to runway incursions, we have not done an intensive look at each one with respect to the pilots. We do know that most of the incidents occur because of errors that pilots made due to misunderstanding instructions, due to not seeing something, due to misunderstanding the clearance, or sometimes they get a perfectly good clearance and then they proceed, as this pilot did, and do the wrong thing. We have not gone in-depth into those reasons for all the incursions.
I will ask Mr. Haueter if he wants to add to that. No? Essentially, no.
Mr. EHLERS. All right. I think that would be well worth looking at if we are really going to take a serious effort to reduce it.
A final comment to the FAA. Take a look at the light idea. That is incredibly cheap. It would be less than 10 percent of what you have already spent and would fit with the other patterns around an airport. It would not be at all hard to do.
Mr. DAVIS. Sir, we are doing that. We have added that as an ongoing R&D initiative. It was tested previously several years ago. There were problems with the activation of the lights and the lights not being reliable, indicating basically the wrong signal.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have also issued a note to all of our controllers to speak in a more intelligible manner, particularly when they are speaking with crews where English is not a primary language.
Mr. EHLERS. Frankly, you are going to have to reinforce that because it is an ingrained habit and you are really going to have to crack down on some. But I cannot understand why there would be a problem with lights. That is something that you can clearly solve.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. May I?
Mr. EHLERS. Yes.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. We did some experiments at Boston Logan and now we are using some new technology in Long Beach. The problem that we had at Boston Logan is the surveillance of the aircraft was not reliable based on radar, which was the triggering mechanism for the lights. The lights were going on and off incorrectly when, in fact, no aircraft were on the active runway. So they were going on when they should not have gone on. And because of that, it was more of a safety risk to introduce the technology.
At Long Beach Airport, what we are experimenting with now are magnetic strips under the pavement similar to the kind that trigger red lights or green lights at intersections. That seems to be much more promising in terms of a reliable indicator to trigger the lights.
Mr. EHLERS. Okay. I am talking about something even simpler. That the tower, when they say ''cleared for takeoff,'' they push a button and red lights go on along every runway to stop any taxi at
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Yes. We had one experimental program at John F. Kennedy Airport to do that, too. In addition to the controller workload issues, there were also human factor issues of erring at incorrect times and turning the switch on and off. It is a very complex airport, as you are aware, and it got to be too much for a human to comprehend all the movements there. So I think it is a very worthwhile suggestion which we are pursuing, but one that we have come to know is a very complex issue.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EHLERS. Well, I will be happy to talk to you further and give you other simplifying ideas.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. We would love to talk to you about them.
Mr. EHLERS. I have spent years working in labs and I think I might have something to offer. Thank you very much.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
I recognize the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Johnson.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I use one of the airports listed here for these incursions, one of the top ten, and it does cause some concern.
You indicate that most of the incursions are caused by pilot error. I have a whole pile of letters in my office wanting to extend the retirement age, and I know why the age cap has been placed there. Is there any correlation between the pilot error and physical condition deteriorating from natural aging?
Mr. DAVIS. Congresswoman, we do not know that. One of the projects that we are undertaking as quickly as we can is in an effort to improve the data collection, so that information such as age, flight hours, fatigue, time in the air, topics that were mentioned, which we would like to capture can be captured. We do not necessarily have all that information now.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you.
Mr. MEAD. May I add something to that?
Ms. JOHNSON. Yes.
Mr. MEAD. Between March of 2001 and March of 2002, FAA was running a pilot program where they would offer pilots immunity and they would thereby get to the root cause of some of these incidents. I think that is probably one useful way of collecting information along the lines you describe. However, I think it is unfortunate, but, although the Runway Incursion Office at FAA wanted to continue that program, FAA has since discontinued it anyway.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you.
Mr. DAVIS. If I might just add one more thing to that. We have recently resurrected that in the Runway Incursion Office, and we have every confidence that we are going to be able to turn around and reissue the program.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you. What about congestion? Is pilot error more common when it is a very congested airport?
Mr. DAVIS. The data were very interesting on this. We rank ordered all the airports in a study, from the very busiest all the way out to the least busy, and then we compared that identical rank order with the number of runway incursions at each airport. We found that there was a general correlation to volume, but not a specific correlation to volume. I could give you a few examples. Dulles Airport, with which you are all familiar, is a very busy airport, one of the top 32 that we studied. It has a very low incidence of runway incursions. Other airports that have slightly increased volume, for example, Kansas City, has a similar volume, but has significantly greater number of incidents.
We believe that volume is somehow generally related, but there are other factors that are involved. Those factors include airport design, the type of traffic mix at the airport, local climate, and those kinds of things.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentlelady.
Let me recognize the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Isakson.
Mr. ISAKSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Carmody, during the showing of the Korean Air and Air China flight, you made a statement, and I want to make sure I heard it right, that when the controller yelled ''Stop,'' it was about the same time AMASS would have, if it were in operation, notified the controller of an incursion. Is that right?
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CARMODY. Right.
Mr. ISAKSON. Assuming the controller had not seen that, and assuming AMASS was in place and sounded the alarm in that incident, what would he have done? Would he have done the same thing, yelled ''Stop.'' Would that have been about all he could do given the proximity of that?
Ms. CARMODY. Probably given the time. One of our concerns is that six seconds is a very short time for a controller to recognize what the problem is, decide what to do with it, communicate with the aircraft. He probably would have done the same thing.
Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Davis, I believe your testimony said that about 20 percent of the reported incursions are considered major and that we had about 65 a year for the last 4 years. Is that right?
Mr. DAVIS. That is correct.
Mr. ISAKSON. Are all of those 65 incursions two different aircraft. You are not talking about ground equipment or anything, you are talking about aircraft?
Mr. DAVIS. It is a combination of aircraft and ground vehicles, two aircraft, aircraft and individuals.
Mr. ISAKSON. I want to sort of make an observation here. If, in fact, pilot error and I am sure sometimes controller error may have contributed to these incursions, it would also seem that since none of them resulted in a collision, which I assume is correct, none of those 65 each in the last four years, then the other pilot who was not in error kept it from being a collision. That was obviously true in the Korean Air example. Is that a fair statement to make?
Mr. DAVIS. That is. There were actually three accidents which were recorded during the period of the study. They were folded back into the data to ensure we would capture them in the most conservative way as a Category A, the most severe rating of runway incursion.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To answer your other question, there are a number of safety redundancies in the system. One of them is controller training. By and large, controllers provide extremely reliable and excellent service. Another is pilot training. Another is the design of aircraft. And what you saw in this case was a case where a rapidly unfolding event was recognized, but not quickly enough by the controller. A pilot, expertly trained in a well-designed airplane, was able to muster his resources and avoid the accident. Flying over 25 years in the system, I believe that this level of redundancy is the reason that we do not have more events.
Mr. ISAKSON. I guess the comment I was going to make, I think you said we have spent $243 million on AMASS, is that right? Who said that? Somebody said some number. Anyway, it just seemed to me that if AMASS in its operational mode could have done no more than that controller did in that incident between Air China and Korean Air, you could do a heck of a lot of controller and pilot training for $243 million that might be better spent. I think what Mr. Ehlers said is true, you appear to be using a sledgehammer to solve a problem where you need some fine tuning. That is the only observation I am making, but I am not an engineer and I am not a pilot.
Mr. DAVIS. As the program manager but not as a technical expert, I would recommend and strongly suggest that we do proceed with AMASS because it will do a lot of good. The system is not perfect, we recognize that, but it will provide increased situational awareness and increased alerts to the controllers, and it will provide benefits, in my view, which exceeds the cost, the $35 million or so of additional cost that is required to put out the remaining 32 sites. The return to the public is sufficient that I believe we should proceed. I would want it for my family, and I would want it for your families, and I want it for the Nation.
Mr. ISAKSON. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me recognize the gentlelady from Nevada, Ms. Berkley.
Ms. BERKLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you having this hearing.
This question is for Mr. Davis. Two of the airports in my district were cited in the FAA Runway Safety Report. McCarran International was found to be among one of the safest major airports in the country for runway safety. I believe in the year 2000 there were only two incursions. We are very pleased with that given the fact that McCarran Airport's takeoffs and landings have increased by 10 percent. North Las Vegas Airport, on the other hand, ranked in the top five for runway incursions. In a four year period, North Las Vegas had 26 runway incursions. Six of the ten airports that are ranked among the worst in the country for runway incursions are receiving upgrades to either ASDE-3 systems or the AMASS system.
I have been an advocate for increased funding for runway safety. Is North Las Vegas Airport going to be upgraded in the near future any time soon for either one of these systems?
Mr. DAVIS. I have been in discussion with the Inspector General about this airport and several other airports that are not scheduled at the present time to receive ASDE or AMASS. My intent is to have a team go look at North Las Vegas and take a look at what type of technologies will best meet the problems of the people, principally the general aviation community, who operate out of the North Las Vegas Airport.
Ms. BERKLEY. Do you know when you are planning to do that? If at all possible, I would love to coordinate my schedule to be there because I am very concerned about this.
Mr. DAVIS. I have agreed to do it within the next calendar year. We can certainly advise you when it is scheduled and you are more than welcome to attend.
Ms. BERKLEY. I would appreciate that. Now if one of these systems is not put in place or is not recommended by you, I do not know whether one of these systems would be a sledgehammer or a nutcracker, but I am wondering if there is any other solutions you would suggest or methods that you could offer to North Las Vegas?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. There are several that we are looking at. Last year we put out a broad area announcement and are reviewing six technologies that were brought to our attention. We have also added another technology that we are reviewing. We hope to complete the reviews in the next year and to try to put some prototypes out there. So in light of the technologies that we are reviewing under the broad area announcement, in addition to possibly the ASDE components, our hope is that we are going to develop and determine low-cost solutions that are appropriate for many airports around the country.
Ms. BERKLEY. And if I could urge you to come sooner in the year than later. My air traffic controllers have spoken to me numerous times about this issue and they are very, very concerned. Las Vegas is not a bad place to visit, I might add.
Mr. DAVIS. Message received.
Ms. BERKLEY. Thank you.
Mr. MEAD. I might just say, I think FAA has responded to our recommendation that they evaluate places like North Las Vegas, that are currently scheduled to receive nothing, that they should receive something.
One of the interesting statistics on this airport, North Las Vegas, is that substantially, not all, but substantially all the incursions there were pilot error-caused. It is a fairly unusual profile.
Ms. BERKLEY. How do you account for that? Because I do not think there are many non-English-speaking pilots landing at North Las Vegas.
Mr. DAVIS. It is one of the factors that we will have to look into. I know it is a large general aviation airport and it is a busy general aviation airport. We have agreed to partner with AOPA to increase the awareness, increase the training, and work as a team to reduce the number of runway incursions that the general aviation community experiences across the entire Nation. North Las Vegas would certainly benefit from that, in addition to the visit we intend to do next year.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. BERKLEY. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentlelady.
Let me recognize the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Hayes.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me review just a minute. Was it you, Mr. Mead, that said runway incursions are the most serious problems that we face, or was that somebody else?
Mr. MEAD. That is what I said, sir.
Mr. HAYES. Okay. Is that what you meant?
Mr. MEAD. Yes.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Davis, you are a pilot, right?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes, sir, 25 years in the system, 30 years managing airplanes.
Mr. HAYES. Okay. I am about the same level of experience and if I were to go fly today, runway incursions are not the most serious problem I would face. So I just wanted to make sure that we were clear on that.
Of the listed incursions on your charts, what percentage of those incursions occurred when visibility was a mile or less?
Mr. DAVIS. I am not able to answer that. The data that we have available to us are not reliable enough to give you an answer that I could stand behind.
Mr. HAYES. Do you know, Mr. Mead?
Mr. MEAD. No, I do not.
Mr. HAYES. Okay. The reason I ask is because there is a very distinct difference between runway incursions when visibility is good and when it is bad. As far as I am concerned, the only time this very expensive equipment is really going to pay dividends for you is when you cannot see. Now my question, the guy in the Air China airline, why was he sitting on the left not looking out the window and seeing the other aircraft coming? He must have been dead asleep. No pun intended; I did not mean to say that. But as Mr. Baldacci said, common sense is going to go a lot further than anything else we talk about here.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Ehlers he took away my idea. Think of having an additional ground controller who is in the cab of the tower watching for potential incursion situations but not have to have a high level experience. It would be a good way to come into the system. He is the one in the tower watching to see if this is going to happen. He could be a far better alert than an electronic device that is going to be erratic because of the nature of taxi it up, hold short. Clear it into position and hold, the lights go to yellow, as Mr. Ehlers said, clear it for take off, the lights go to red. Very straight forward. Very simple. What do you think of that idea? Anybody who wants to comment.
Mr. MEAD. I would just say that I think that FAA's technology focus needs to emphasize what you are speaking of as well as letting the pilot see what is going on around that plane. Currently, pilots do not know what is going on around their plane. They are dependent for that information on the controller.
Mr. HAYES. That is not true at all. That is not true at all. If I am cleared for takeoff on runway 15 at National, the first thing I am going to do is look out the left window at what is happening on the north-south runway.
Mr. MEAD. Are you going to see what is behind you?
Mr. HAYES. What is behind me? I am going to see that when I taxi onto the runway. But the more pressing problem, the situation that you illustrate here, was the guy that looked down the runway. If I am taking off on 15 and I look over there and someone is on short final or someone is already rolling, I am going to say did the controller make a mistake. I am responsible for some of the things that I do. I think part of what we are missing here is the whole nine yards. If you want to raise awareness, there are a number of ways to do it. I am not opposed to the expensive equipment but there are a lot of quick fixes available. One would be if you simply add to your approach ATIS the message ''Be Aware, Heavy Ground Traffic,'' ''Be Aware of Incursions.'' We put on there about noise abatement. That is not nearly as big a safety issue as runway incursion. What are the practical common sense things that we can do when we leave here this afternoon that are going to make a difference.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Carmody, you talked about re-educating general aviation pilots. I did not hear the rest of that story. Was that going somewhere in particular?
Ms. CARMODY. Only to a question about phraseology. One of the reasons the FAA gave us for resisting changing to the international phraseology, the ICAO phraseology, was the concern that general aviation pilots would have to be re-educated, reinstructed in phraseology.
Mr. HAYES. Well, that is important. And the FAA does a good job of safety seminars, AOPA does the same thing. I think general aviation is very responsive and would be very eager to participate in anything that is going to improve safety. The only term I have heard in, gosh, I do not even remember how long, 30 years of flying was in Canada one time and the guy says ''Go for the button.'' Anybody here know what ''Go for the button'' means? I assumed it was go for the numbers. But that is the only time. There are not that many unusual terms that are used, and we are certainly ready to respond.
I guess my point in all of this is the personal responsibility issue is oftentimes pushed aside as we go into all these gee whiz computer-generated things. You cannot take the place of an aware pilot, a professional controller, and proper coordination between the two. We have had all these discussions, Mr. Chairman, about runway incursions and more concrete and increasing availability of air space, but it comes back to training and let us make sure that we have got that extra controller in the tower and that we have got the intelligent, educated pilot. That is going to get us to the finish line.
Mr. DAVIS. Yes. I would like to add a couple of things. Reference the ICAO discussion that you were just having, that is an issue that is under review right now as a part of a phraseology group that we have conducted and are coordinating. That group is due to report out this year. One of the things that they are looking at, among other things, is the ICAO phraseology.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Other things you mentioned. With regard to the multiple takeoff clearances or landing clearances, we intend to model some of those options next year in our next fiscal year budget. The suggestion on ATIS, I have taken a note on that and I will try to get you an answer. I would also offer that the controllers' association is going to be with us as part of the next panel and I think they could offer some expert insight into some of the suggestions that you had regarding activation of lights.
[The information received follows:]
The suggestion concerning the use of the Automated Terminal Information Broadcast (ATIS) system to provide runway safety information to pilots is well founded. However, the current thinking about providing runway safety information to pilots through ATIS, is that ATIS broadcasts are already considered by many pilots to be too long, especially at busy airports. Adding additional information (such as runway safety information) would adversely impact the ability of aircrews to obtain critical airport information when it is needed. Hence, this could create an unintended safety liability.
FAA is looking at alternative methods to spread the runway safety message to pilots by examining and enhancing outreach efforts with pilot organizations and trade publications.
Mr. DAVIS.Finally, the only thing that I could add is that some of the airports that we have are very, very large and it is difficult to see parts of those airports from the control tower. So that is one thing we have to keep in mind as we integrate the human factor into our solutions. Sometimes we are pushing humans to the edge of their limits.
Mr. HAYES. Do not call me till you get to the fire house. They cannot see me when I am on Signature's ramp, but, again, you are paying attention. That is no big deal. Thanks for your testimony. I am from the Government. I am here to help you.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Let us hear from the lady from California, Ms. Millender-McDonald.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you and the Ranking Member for convening this hearing. It is extremely timely. As I have spoken a couple of weeks ago with some of my air traffic controllers out in California, and as I look at this report that you have provided for us, four of the ten airports with double-digit incursions occurring are in California. So that becomes extremely problematic for me as a Member representing California.
I agree with the gentleman who spoke before me who said sometimes it takes common sense in order for us to try to alleviate some of the problems. In looking at the chart, it suggests to me that a lot of these runway incursions have been done by pilot deviation, in fact, the majority of them, with the exception of 1994. Yet, Mr. Davis, you intimated that traffic mix along with design perhaps have been part of the concerns or the problems. When you look at this, you look at California, especially Los Angeles being one of the large airports that you speak of and you sometimes cannot see, what in the sam hill can we do about this if not signs that direct some of that traffic on the ground? It says here that vehicle/pedestrian deviation is one where a vehicle or individual enters a runway without the air traffic controller's approval. And you are suggesting that sometimes high up you cannot see down on the ground. What can we do in this traffic mix to try to alleviate these incursions?
When you have 33 runway incursions at Los Angeles Airport and 25 at Long Beach, those are dead in my district, I am going to have to hear from someone as to what we are going to do to alleviate this problem. It has been frightening to hear about it from the air traffic controllers' standpoint, and now I am reading about it and I need to hear some answers from you and others who are on this panel today. What can we do? And if, in fact, California's airports are among the first to get this AMASS and ASDE systems going? And that is for all of you who can speak to that question.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. We can do a lot and we are doing a lot. We readily admit that we need to do more. I just wish we could do it faster. One of the things that we need to do for the very busy airports is we need to implement the technology that we have available to us now as quickly as we can. AMASS, although not perfect, is an improvement. It is what we have now. It is better than not having AMASS. Similarly, we need to implement ASDE-X as rapidly as we can. It will not be perfect, but it will provide a significant benefit to the travelling public.
Other things that we are doing are also important. For example, in training, we have recently issued a circular to standardize ground operations. Working with our Flight Standards staff, my office will be working with airlines, all sorts of air carriers, and general aviation operators to improve ground operations. There are several hundred thousand people who are licensed to drive on the Nation's airports. We have recently issued a video and are sending it to airports and to our Flight Standards people who do that kind of training for us to improve the knowledge and awareness of the people who operate vehicles on the Nation's airports.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Davis, that sounds good, but how immediate can we start providing whatever is necessary, the high-tech, expand on what you are doing, to help us to decrease these incursions that are taking place? Your numbers are higher than the numbers that I got from my air traffic controllers just a couple of weeks ago.
Mr. DAVIS. For the technology waterfall, as we call it, I would like to defer to Mr. Zaidman. But regarding the communications, the training, the other outreach efforts that we are doing, we are doing those now and we are doing them as aggressively as we can. I have talked informally with many groups, all of whom have responded. AOPA, ALPA, many groups have responded, airport groups included, that want to cooperate. Nobody wants this problem to get worse. Everybody is on board and wants to solve the problem. It is just a very difficult problem given the number of operations in the system, the millions and millions and millions of them, and the large geographic nature of the 450-plus towered airports with which we work, the 600,000 pilots, and so on.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. And before high-tech were signs. Signs will not help us in this? There is an argument that the high-tech will not really be the immediate but signs would be an immediate answer to alleviating some of the problems.
Mr. DAVIS. Signs will be helpful and we are looking at ways to improve the conspicuity, the word we use, for example the visibility of signs. We need to attack this on many different fronts because we are going to get marginal improvement from lots of different areas.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. And that cannot be. You cannot do marginal improvements. You have got to do improvements that will be substantial.
Mr. DAVIS. I would agree. But we will get substantial improvement by the addition of lots of incremental steps. We do not yet see, a technology out there that will solve this problem for us.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. We have yet to see that?
Mr. DAVIS. We do not have that technology on our scope yet. But we are working hard to try to identify such a technology. In the meantime, we work and make progress everywhere we can.
Ms. CARMODY. Congresswoman, I would just like to underscore what I said in my testimony, that the NTSB believes that unless there is a way to notify the pilot of impending incursions, we are going to continue to have this problem. Most of the incursions are caused by pilots. If they are not notified of what is coming at them, there are going to be more of these. Whether that is a complicated system like an AMASS system enhanced, or whether it is something simple as we have discussed earlier, whether it is lights or cross-bars on the runway, something to alert the pilots is crucial.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. I must say, we are at the year 2001 and it certainly seems to me that there should be something that we can do, working with the pilots, to help them, and to help us who are in the air twice a week going back and forth to our districts, and I am speaking about the 52 Members who make up the California delegation. This is troubling when four out of those ten airports are in California and we are still trying to figure out the right formula or do not have in place the technology. We must do something, if it is increasing funding for R&D or whatever it takes for research and development of a program and a system that is going to help to diminish these numbers of incursions in California.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Davis, you said that you had someone who would speak to some of the questions I have raised.
Mr. DAVIS. Yes. Mr. Zaidman. Our goal is to decrease both the frequency and the severity of runway incursions. Those are separate strategies. Mr. Zaidman is an expert in the technical end of it. I think that he has a lot to offer on this.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Zaidman?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Just very briefly, Congresswoman. Los Angeles is scheduled to get two AMASS systems because of the size of the airport. That is scheduled for August of this year. So they are very high on our waterfall. So that is good news.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Great.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. In addition, Mr. Davis previously mentioned some broad agency announcements which are intended to pull low-tech solutions, but affordable developmental solutions early and quickly. One system has been approved for Long Beach Airport using radar gun-like technologies to detect aircraft. And the other one, which I mentioned before, involves magnetic sensors underneath the concrete, like we have at intersections, to detect aircraft. That is also now installed at Long Beach Airport.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. It is now installed?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. It is currently there, yes.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Okay. Fine. And so the numbers that we have seen were out before we installed the system that you are speaking about?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Well, one is installed at Long Beach, one has been approved to be installed at Long Beach. The AMASS system will go in Los Angeles. Those are just three examples.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Okay. Fine. In other words, we are trying to get systems in place at both Los Angeles and Long Beach Airports that would help us in reducing the numbers?
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ZAIDMAN. That is correct.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. One other question, Mr. Chairman, and that is to Ms. Carmody. You said that you have listed three recommendations that have not been accepted. Accepted by whom, and why not?
Ms. CARMODY. By the Federal Aviation Administration. We made a number of recommendations last summer and then we asked for their response to these recommendations. There were three of those that they chose not to fulfill. One was adopting the standard international phraseology, which they said they were going to study. One was the practice of holding aircraft on active runways at night or in periods of reduced visibility. We said we did not think that was a good idea. They thought that they could manage it and that it would complicate the system and the controller's job if they discontinued that. And the third one was that the FAA cease issuing multiple landing clearances and go with ICAO practice, which is not to issue a landing clearance until another plane had cleared the threshold. FAA said doing that would complicate the system further.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. You have not heard a comment back on those as to why they are not accepting the recommendation?
Ms. CARMODY. Yes, we did. FAA had said that it would increase the complexity of the controller's workload and they thought it might lead to further problems.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. And the third one, which is a critical one, that response from the FAA was?
Ms. CARMODY. That was the same.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Same response?
Ms. CARMODY. Yes.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that we send another letter or perhaps have the FAA Administrator come in to talk with us about that given the severity of these incursions that are taking place, especially in the State of California. I do have a statement that I would like unanimous consent to submit for the record. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. Without objection, your entire statement will be made part of the record.
I thank the gentlelady.
Let me yield to the gentleman from California, Mr. Horn.
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mead, as Inspector General, you have given testimony that the Federal Aviation Administration originally estimated the cost of AMASS to be $60 million. Is that correct?
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir.
Mr. HORN. In 1997 this was raised to $74 million. I am curious, Mr. Mead or Mr. Davis, what are you projecting the cost to be today?
Mr. MEAD. The current projection for that system is about $150 million. It has an extraordinarily aggressive implementation schedule. They have done San Francisco and Detroit, but that is six years late. There are 32 airports to go. They want to do that over the course of the next 14 to 15 months. I think it is doubtful whether FAA can sustain that type of deployment schedule across the United States. The longer it extends on, the costs will go up, sir.
Mr. HORN. You and I have been around here to remember the computer situation in terms of the radar that went from $1 billion to $2 billion, to $3 billion, to $4 billion, and they finally pulled the plug. Are we in this kind of situation? How confident are you that they know what they are doing in terms of a management sense?
Mr. MEAD. No, sir, I do not think we are in the situation that you referred to. What you are in, though, is the promise that was initially behind this technology. I do not think you will realize the full dividends that you thought you would, even though the price has gone up. I think people were looking to this alert system as though it would be a panacea or something of a cure-all, and it will not be. It will be I think a net positive once we get it in, but I think people will be mistaken if they think it is going to be the answer.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HORN. Mr. Davis, do you have any thoughts on the subject as to what the projection might be?
Mr. DAVIS. The cost projections, sir, I would have to defer to Mr. Zaidman for that information.
Mr. HORN. Fine. Mr. Zaidman?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. I think $152 million, which is our current estimate, is pretty much right on. The reason for our raising it from $60-odd million to $74 million in 1997 is because that is when we issued the production contract and we just had better numbers from the vendor. But since that time, due to the challenges that we have had in executing the system, we had an increase in costs.
I will also say that I am a little bit more optimistic than Inspector Mead on this, because 33 of the 34 AMASS systems have already been installed. Now there is a difference between installation and commissioning; it requires training, it requires optimizing the system for the particular airport. But, indeed, we have 33 of the 34 systems physically in place today.
Mr. HORN. So it is about one-third?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. It is almost 100 percent of the systems. The 34 systems are the total buy of the system. Thirty-three of those thirty-four are in place but they are not yet commissioned, they have to be optimized, the controllers need to be trained. But that is why I am pretty optimistic on that final cost number, sir.
Mr. HORN. How many do you think might pop up on the screen? Because I look at last week the Federal Aviation Administration published a study that found that while the overall number of runway incursions was increasing, the number of serious incursions was holding steady. How was it decided which incursions were classified as serious and which ones were not? Can you enlighten us, Mr. Davis and Mr. Mead?
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. Yes, sir. My office commissioned a study. The study looked at all of the runway incursions that had occurred between 1997 and 20001,367 events, as I recall.
A group was put together of people who represented the various aspects of the aviation industry: controllers, pilots, people who work in airports.
In addition, there was a person from NASA or people from NASA, their Aviation Safety Reporting System were there. In addition to that, we had people from MITRE and Booz-Allen. MITRE and Booz-Allen provided staff to do the study and produce the report for us.
These people achieved a consensus on each of the events and scored them, ''A'' being the most serious, ''D'' being more of a technical violation.
Mr. HORN. Well, that is helpful because I was wondering how subjective this would be. You say it came from an outside consultant. Did that make sense to pilots and others when you showed them this particular criteria?
Mr. DAVIS. What actually occurred was each of the events was analyzed. They were different types of events and they were not analyzed sequentially, for example, pilot incursions from 1997 were analyzed by the group.
Then they jumped to vehicle or pedestrian incursions in 1999 and they would move around to ensure that there was fairness of the analysis and reporting as the process continued. In order to score an event, they actually would get the airport chart. They would read narratives. They would find whatever data they could, recreate the events, discuss them among themselves, where they thought the event should be scored.
Their reports to me were that the more serious events, the category A and B events, were actually the easiest to score and the more difficult to score were the category C and D events.
Mr. HORN. Is Captain Rutty still here?
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. He hasn't testified yet.
Mr. HORN. Okay. We will save on that, then.
My last question is: The Inspector General says there have been six Runway Safety Directors in five years, Mr. Mead. Why is that?
Mr. MEAD. One reason is almost certainly the frustration, I think, of the position. We point out in our testimony that the position has an enormous amount of responsibility, but not a lot of authority.
We think that the position should be enhanced by giving the Director, in this case Mr. Davis, the responsibility for providing input into people's performance appraisals and bonus decisions.
It is not realistic to have the Runway Incursion Director in charge of all the runway incursion initiatives. You can't have everybody reporting to the Runway Incursion Director. You would practically have all of FAA. So, you do have a matrix management situation.
I think you need to build some accountability into this position. You would have to ask the individual directors as to whether they had their own reasons in addition to that.
Mr. HORN. Mr. Davis, I am not going to ask you how long you plan to stay. But some days you probably want to leave.
Mr. DAVIS. This has been one of my better days.
Mr. HORN. That is great. So, thank you for coming. We appreciate all that the FAA does on this.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Let me recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. Carmody, you state in your testimony that the National Transportation Safety Board believes that a key element missing from the AMASS system is direct warning to pilots and vehicle operators of a possible collision. You have said that a number of times during the course of today's hearing.
Is there any technology available that can be used to give such warnings?
Ms. CARMODY. Thank you, Mr. Lipinski. I think there are several. There are some simple ones like cross fires that could be installed on the runway that would light up and alert the pilot when he was starting to cross them that would indicate what was an active runway.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Is that the stop bars we were talking about with the lights earlier?
Ms. CARMODY. Like the red lights that would be activated when a runway is live and then any plane approaching that on a taxiway would see that.
Then there are more sophisticated ones like the ADS-B, which is the technology that provides a heads-up display in the cockpit. It is based on satellite information. It gives positions to the pilots of every aircraft, every vehicle on the surface and it identifies those vehicles by aircraft number.
There are probably a number of others. There are various hoops and magnetic detectors. But I think they can go from the simple to the complex. What we think is important is that there be one.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Davis, I know you have recently taken over, but is there any reason that you know of that we haven't put an emphasis on trying to get something that would directly communicate with the pilots?
I don't understand why we continually go through the air traffic controllers to tell the pilots. If the air traffic controllers see something, they tell the pilots. I don't know why we don't have more direct communication with the pilots.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. I would like to answer from the program point of view and then pass it to Mr. Zaidman for the more technological aspect of this answer.
From the program point of view, we concur. We would like to move in this direction. I sit as a co-chair on what is called the Joint Safety Implementation Team where one of the technologies that is looked at regarding runway incursions is cockpit-moving maps.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Let me interrupt just for a second. I don't mean to be rude. I understand we all would like to move in that direction.
I was wondering if you had any ideas why we haven't moved in that direction.
Mr. DAVIS. Part of it is that the technology is not fully designed yet. I liken it to, and I will pass it to Mr. Zaidman for the technology end, we are kind of at the early laptop stage. We know the technology is going to do many additional tasks in the future. We have to figure out now how to design the equipment that we want to install and design the infrastructure that we want to install now to be able to evolve to additional capacity and capability in the future.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. If I may, one bright spot and one cautionary note. We have two demonstration airports that we work with in FAA, Memphis and Louisville, where we are demonstrating these cockpit technologies. One of them is a moving map display like Ms. Carmody talked about.
The good news is that we are now at the point where the avionics manufacturers will be applying to FAA as early as this January for approval to install those moving map displays in the cockpit.
The cautionary note I would add is that we still have to learn about the human factors in the cockpit. We don't have all the answers yet. I think it is akin to using cell phones in a car or using a moving map display or GPS in the car, while the primary focus should be looking out the window.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, there are theoretical inherent risks with these technologies. The good news is the technologies, I believe, are ready for the moving map displays. A cautionary note, again, is learning a little bit more about the human factors and how that impacts in the real world.
Mr. LIPINSKI. It seems to me, if we would initiate more things towards directly communicating with the pilots rather than having the air traffic controllers communicate with the pilots, it would advance the whole safety of the system a lot faster.
The stop bars, the running lights, you talked about them earlier. I really don't understand. It doesn't seem to me that the technology would be that greatly advanced with regards to coming up with some kind of system to have lights flashing on telling people to stop.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. That is what we all want to have. I think the experts generally agree that that would make a significant contribution to reducing runway incursions.
Not by way of an excuse, but the challenge is finding the right censors that reliably do that. I think there are some. They are known as ADS-B kind of technologies, which are the next generation. In fact, we have issued a contract for that for another 25 airports.
What that technology does is that it reads what is called an aircraft transponder and identifies where that aircraft is. It gets away from the inherent problems we have seen with radars. So, last year we issued a contract to test this technology at 25 airports. We call it ASDE-X. We believe it will provide the reliable surveillance tools that we need to power the lights.
Mr. LIPINSKI. How long have we been trying to come up with a way to do this? Do you have any idea?
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ZAIDMAN. Oh, going back to the 1980s. We were looking at another sensor technology other than radar. In the 1980s we considered radar as being the best technology there was for detecting where the aircraft are.
Only until recently with GPS and what is known as multilateration or triangulation have we been able to begin to take the next step.
Mr. LIPINSKI. It just seems to me that the National Transportation Safety Board comes up with these recommendations. They go to the FAA and it seems like all of a sudden there are vendors all over the place rushing in. They have a solution to the problem. Because the FAA is under pressure because it is a safety situation, they accept these vendors, that they have the solution to the problem.
Then we find out we spent four times as much money as we were going to and it is about five or six years down the line and we switch to something else. It doesn't seem to me that in regards to this simple stop and go light we could have on runways which would improve safety, it doesn't seem like we have gone very enthusiastically into that, which I believe is a very common sense approach to the problem.
But we will move on because my time is very limited.
Ms. Carmody, in your testimony you state that the AMASS visual and audible alert parameters were not based on human performance studies, but were empirically determined based on tests conducted with a prototype AMASS system. Please explain why this is a problem.
Ms. CARMODY. I am going to defer that one to Mr. Haueter. My understanding was that the simulations were not accurately reflecting the real situation. Mr. Haueter is the Deputy for the Office of Aviation Safety.
Mr. HAUETER. You have to take a look at timing. The controller has to be notified. He has to recognize which aircraft is having the incursion. He has to notify that aircraft. The pilot has to recognize what is going on, stop or maybe accelerate out of the situation.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, there is a whole group of factors in terms of reaction time and understanding what is going on that has to be fed into the process. All those add time. As we saw in the incident in Chicago, AMASS would have provided six seconds. In six seconds the aircraft was already onto the runway and the other aircraft was accelerating for take-off.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Davis, do you have anything to add to that?
Mr. DAVIS. No. That is a very difficult case for us. We struggle with that case. It is a human factors issue. Information in the cockpit such as moving maps would help with that. I think we would all like to have that. We are trying to work with industry to develop that technology and spread the technology as quickly as we can.
What is most important to us, though, regarding whatever solution that we consider is that it needs to be predictably reliable, because today we have a problem on the ground and we need to keep this problem on the ground.
If we have systems which are not reliable and we start having aircraft that are on short final having to do missed approaches, then we start moving the safety issue back into the air again, in a terminal area where we least want it. This is where crews are arriving after a long flight and they may be tired, where aircraft have come down from altitude and are using the most gas.
You introduce a lot of other dissonance, if you will, into what is normally a very smooth flow of aircraft into and out of an airport.
So, part of our solution is to look at the entirety of the safety picture and make sure that whatever we do doesn't move the problem, from the ground into the air or to another segment of the flight envelope.
Mr. LIPINSKI. It seems to me that many of these improvements that we come up with as far as technology is concerned in the aviation field, it seems to me like they are developed in a laboratory and often times when they are put out in the practical arena they don't work and that is where we get into trouble.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I am going to move on because the Chairman over here is getting impatient with me. But I have to ask Mr. Mead one question.
Mr. Mead, do you have confidence that the AMASS will work and the controllers will use the system?
Mr. MEAD. No. I can amplify.
Mr. LIPINSKI. No. That is wonderful. I think that is perfect.
Mr. MEAD. I think it is too soon to tell.
Mr. LIPINSKI. But you said ''no'' first of all.
Mr. MEAD. I think it is too soon to tell. No, I don't have confidence yet. I am going to have to see the track record at Detroit and San Francisco and see how much the controllers are actually using it at the two installations we have waited so long to get them installed at.
There are 32 to go in the United States. Mr. Zaidman says it is installed. It is, but the devil is in the details. The proof is in the pudding. We will see once they get operational and the controllers start using them, how much reliance they place on them. We will be able to tell you more a year from now.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Zaidman, you said they are installed, but what was that word you used, they are not ''commissioned?''
Mr. ZAIDMAN. They are not commissioned. We still have training to do. We still have to modify all the software parameters for every airport because they are configured differently. The runways are configured differently. So, we have some work to do. It is an aggressive schedule.
Sir, I will say that our experience in San Francisco has yielded data on the AMASS that it is providing an average alert of 22 seconds in advance of an event. That is an average. In some cases it could be as little as six seconds and in that case AMASS won't work. Other examples are that it yielded 40 seconds of advanced time. In those situations AMASS will work.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, I believe the controllers will use it, but recognizing that it is not a panacea, is not a cure-all. It has situations where it will work and situations where, unfortunately, it will not work.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Well, I think the Federal Aviation Administration does an incredible job on things, but in this particular area, it just seems like we have had, you know, very, very little progress. I am extremely disappointed in that, as I am sure people in the FAA are disappointed in it.
I am going to conclude by saying I think that Mr. Mead's answer to my question a few moments ago is a perfect fitting end to the questioning of this panel. Thank you.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
Let me recognize another gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Kirk.
Mr. KIRK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It seems that we welcome the official AMASS deployment to O'Hare in September 2001, I understand. It appears to me, coming out of my part-time work in the intelligence community, that the AMASS technology overlaps considerably with other MTI platforms that the U.S. taxpayer has paid for, particularly J-STARS.
Have you worked with the Department of Defense or the Intelligence community at all in looking at the advances that we have there with ground tracking indications systems?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. We have been in contact with DOD. We generally share our programs and technologies. I am not perhaps familiar with all the relevant technologies that DOD has. We have been working very closely with them on the communications systems that can be used at airports, what we call data-link.
We have consulted with them when we installed the ground radar to see if there was a technology that could specifically be used for the data link application. In fact, we did learn something from the DOD in the design of this radar in terms of its performance.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We can always learn more and we rely on advanced agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Air Force and especially NASA to provide some of the seed-technology for us, not only for runway incursions, but also in other areas of aviation safety.
Mr. KIRK. I would just be encouraged if the Administrator would talk to Director Tennent to make sure that the number of classified payloads that we have, where the quantum leap that I have seen on what we have been able to look at on the ground from Desert Storm to Kosovo, it certainly would seem that the taxpayer has expended a considerable amount of resources on this problem, but I am not sure if the civilian side knows what the intelligence side has got.
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Well, probably not. I will note that GPS is one particular example where we are exploiting, if I can use that term, DOD technology in this application as well as other aviation applications.
Mr. KIRK. With the deployment of AMASS, does that have implementations for the rapid, re-allowing LAHSO operations? For us at O'Hare, up to 20 percent of our delays could be eliminated by reinstituting land and hold short, having an upgraded technology of this kind, would it help in the deployment of LAHSO?
Mr. ZAIDMAN. Well, we are working to do the safety analysis with the industry on land and hold short operations, particularly in Chicago.
LAHSO represents one of the operational challenges for a system like AMASS which is a predictive tool. So, the technology, the computer, is ''dumb'' and it needs to know when an aircraft will land and hold short and when it will land and not hold short. That is one of the challenges for technology such as AMASS.
Therefore, in cases like land and hold short, technology cannot be the only answer. Better signage, better training, better awareness by both the pilots and the controllers are the obvious solutions to those issues.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KIRK. Mr. Chairman, I vote for Mr. Lipinski's idea for stoplights.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA. In conclusion, I have a couple of quick points here. Ms. Carmody, if I make an illegal left-hand turn, I get fined if I am driving my car.
We saw some vivid video here and audio that we had a pilot make a gross error. Is there a fine penalty for that action?
Ms. CARMODY. There probably is. I will defer that to the FAA. As you know, the NTSB has not enforcement authority.
Mr. DAVIS. In the case that was modeled for us, enforcement action could possibly be taken. I think, in my estimation, that was a genuine mistake. So, I don't know that enforcement action would have been taken.
Mr. MICA. Again, where there is some negligent action, we are going after these pilots, fining them, suspending their licenses or whatever appropriate action may be necessary. Is that correct?
Mr. DAVIS. We always have the right to do that. The FAA always reserves the right to do that.
Mr. MICA. But are we doing that?
Mr. DAVIS. What we are trying to do is extend the program where we do not pursue legal action, in return for pilots fully divulging what led up to the event; what they were thinking about, what their concerns were, what they knew, what they didn't know, so we can better understand what is going on.
Mr. MICA. Are these being properly investigated then, Ms. Carmody? You don't make a recommendation on fault, or do you?
Ms. CARMODY. If we investigate an accident and we make a determination
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. Well, these aren't accidents.
Ms. CARMODY. Well, then an incident.
Mr. MICA. Okay.
Ms. CARMODY. We don't make findings per se. If we did, we would make probable cause findings. We don't assess blame or responsibility. We say ''The probable cause was. Contributing factors were.''
Mr. MICA. Is the enforcement adequate? Shouldn't we be going after these pilots? I can't believe, even if it was an honest mistake, that someone wouldn't look out to the runway to the left maybe it was my left.
Ms. CARMODY. It was his left.
Mr. MICA. His left, right.
Ms. CARMODY. We are concerned about the safety problems of pilot errors.
Mr. MICA. If there isn't any penalty
Ms. CARMODY. Well, there are penalties. There are civil penalties. There are penalties in FAA regulations.
Mr. MICA. It is the same thing for an air traffic controller who is not acting responsibly. I would like to see these things enforced. That is just one point I will make.
I notice too, the schedule for deployment, this is the AMASS commissioning schedule. It doesn't match the airport runway incursion list, our highest ranking. For example, Dallas-Fort Worth is 34th in commissioning.
You may want to look at that and try to get these things operational if possible where we have our most risk or at least incidence of incursion.
The other thing, too, I don't know what it is going to take now. We are going through these programs one at a time. We have most of them behind schedule. Most of them are over budget.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want this committee notified on a monthly basis of any deviation in this installation schedule or change; okay? Until I leave this Chairmanship, I want to be notified monthly of any deviation.
I also want you, Mr. Zaidman, to notify us of any change in cost parameters.
The Inspector General and some of us need to get together and see what can be done to hold these vendors' feet to the fire. Some of these contracts just would not be tolerated in the private sector. You can't have cost overruns three times and six-year delays. Only with taxpayer money can such nonsense be tolerated. It is totally unacceptable to me.
Mr. Hayes, you have a quick question?
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I know we have another expert panel and we want to get them up here. But I have a couple of follow-ups.
Mr. Mead, are you a pilot?
Mr. MEAD. No, sir, I am not.
Mr. HAYES. Okay. You asked me a question a moment ago about the example I gave of taking the active runway, in this case, 1-5 or 3-3, going to the northwest. If I am by myself, I am going to think clear right before I take that runway. Anybody coming is going to be on my right. If there is somebody there, I am going to ask him. You are always going to clear.
You asked me if I knew what was behind me. Absolutely I do know what is behind me. I am on the runway. I am in position and hold. I can't see behind me. But if I hear someone on the same frequency, which is the tower that says, ''U.S. Air, clear to land 1-5,'' I am going to say, ''What is going on here?'' to the controller.
So, I definitely know. For the record, in my opinion, on the issue of the three things that Ms. Carmody mentioned, we are asking the system to increase traffic. If we are going to do that we can't do away with hold on active runways because position and hold is very important for traffic control. Multiple landing clearance, again, is about pilot judgment. I would say common language is a part of what we do right now.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, again, thank you for your patience.
Mr. MEAD. May I respond?
Mr. MICA. A real quick response.
Mr. MEAD. I just wanted to say what I base that observation on. I am not a pilot. I was in a cockpit of a commercial airliner at Newark. It was not good weather. Traffic was delayed.
The pilot observed that it would be really useful if in an airport like that, if he could see all the way around him. That is what I based that observation on.
Mr. HAYES. It would be a good point. But there are ways of seeing and/or knowing.
One more quick thing. I apologize. You don't need moving map displays in the cockpit before you have all the pilots in commuter airliners. Your priorities need to be talked about.
Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman.
There being no further questions of this panel, we will excuse the panel at this time. We will keep the record open for a period of three weeks. Without objection, it is so ordered.
There may be additional questions submitted to each of you for response and submission as part of the record of this subcommittee proceeding.
Thank you. We will excuse the panelists at this time.
The second panel today consists of Mr. John G. Rutty. He is a retired Captain with American Airlines. We also have Captain Duane Woerth. He is the President of the Air Line Pilots Association. Welcome also Mr. John Carr. He is the President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Mr. Jack Ryan, the Acting Senior Vice President of Aviation Safety and Operations with the Air Transport Association of America. Finally, our last witness in this panel is Mr. Phil Boyer. He is President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to welcome all of our second panel members. We appreciate your volunteering to be witnesses and assist the subcommittee today.
As is normal, we will limit your oral testimony to the subcommittee to five minutes. If you have lengthy statements which you would like to have made part of the record, by request to the Chair, they will be entered into the record.
With those introductions, let me turn to our first witness and that is Mr. John Rutty. Welcome, sir. You are recognized.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN G. RUTTY, AMERICAN AIRLINES CAPTAIN (RETIRED); DUANE WOERTH, PRESIDENT, AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION; JOHN CARR, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION; JACK RYAN, ACTING SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF AVIATION SAFETY AND OPERATIONS, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA; AND PHIL BOYER, PRESIDENT OF THE AIRCRAFT OWNERS AND PILOTS ASSOCIATION.
Mr. RUTTY. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for allowing me this chance to talk about aviation safety and in particular anti-blocking radio technology and alerting beep technology.
I would like to have this entered into the record with the attachments to my statement.
Mr. HAYES [ASSUMING CHAIR]. Without objection your entire statement and submission will be made part of the record. Please proceed.
Mr. RUTTY. This morning I demonstrated anti-blocking radios to some of the staff of this committee. Just to let you know who I am, I am a retired American Air Line Captain. I have an engineering background. I worked in the industry and I flew for American Air Lines for 28 years. I flew in nine different aircraft and was a captain on about six of those aircraft.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I experienced many blocked transmissions during my career. Blocked, stepped on transmissions is the common wording.
I am going to jump right over to the poster that was made. It is labeled ''step on.'' I am doing this so you will understand the word ''blocked'' and ''step on.'' Most of you probably already do, but I know there are some here who have not been in the cockpit or in the aircraft control tower, the tower with the controllers.
I have a situation depicted on that chart that shows the pilot. This is a multiple runway situation, an airport that has multiple runways. There are two airplanes in position on two intersecting runways.
They are both ready for takeoff. The pilot will call Air One and say, ''Ready for takeoff.'' But a split second later the tower says, ''B-2, fly runway heading, cleared for takeoff.''
Now, you can see, because they are in red on the timeline, that the pilots' transmission was stepped on by the tower. Those voice transmissions would probably be obliterated, unreadable. But what would come out loud and clear there would be the ''Cleared for takeoff,'' and that could be mistakenly taken by Aircraft Number One as a clearance for takeoff.
It is a potentially dangerous situation. It happens frequently. In my attachments to my statement I have pilots' statements, pilots currently flying the line who talk about the problem not getting better and the problem of the miscommunications increasing.
The block is inadvertent. The pilots don't mean to step on another's transmission. The controller doesn't mean to step on the pilot's transmission.
In that incident over there, let us just assume the tower was about one-tenth of a second behind the pilot in pushing his mike button. Now, when that mike button is pushed, both the control operator, the tower operator and the pilot go from receive to transmit. When you are in transmit, no one in your aircraft hears any clearances. You are putting out. Your radio's receiver is turned off, essentially.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The same thing for the tower operator. If that tower operator was one-tenth of a second behind that pilot and we had an alerting beep technology, the tower operator would have got a little beep, something like you get in your Call Waiting on the telephone. That would alert him, I just stepped on a pilot's transmission.
The alerting beep is only recommended for control tower radios and air traffic control radios. I am not recommending that for aircraft. For aircraft we go to the full-blown route. We go to anti-blocking radios. There is a long history of the need for these things. I don't want to take the time. We are running short here.
But there have been lots of studies. FAA, MITRE Corporation, 93 to this century. MITRE, for instance, said in so many words, for the FAA to develop an implementation plan that means get anti-blocking radios out there and get them on the airplanes, the MITRE Corporation saying, ''FAA publish a notice of proposed rule-making, an NPRM, by a date certain.''
Why ''a date certain?'' Because the FAA has been talking about the Notice of Proposed Rule-Making since the early 1980s, 20 years almost.
Okay, on and on. In 1995, DOT, Aviation Safety Plan. They mandated implementation of successfully technology. The technology was available. The Atlantic City, FAA Test Center has tested an air transport radio and a general aviation radio to the specifications that were written in the early 1990s.
American Air Lines went so far as putting a retrofitted radio on their airplane and flying it on a test op. It worked fine. As I say, please go into my statement and attachments. Read what some of the pilots say. One pilots had nine blocks on a leg recently.
The controllers' statements in there, ''the tell-tale squeal we hear every day to know that we have been blocked.''
Okay, let us talk about solutions. First off, for that general aviation radio to be retrofitted cost $200. That same chip that is in that general aviation radio is in that air transport radio, that DC-10 radio that was tested in Atlantic City.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I suggest an evolutionary solution. First, immediately evaluate and implement the installation of the alerting beep device in the FAA controller's radio. I have the circuit right here. I want to work with the FAA on that and get this going.
Second, call for the NPRM, the Notice of Proposed Rule Making. It is long, long overdue. Get that notice out there. Get the comments back from industry and let us put on anti-blocking radios.
Third, require that all future radios be designed with anti-blocking technology and capability.
Thank you very much, Mr. Hayes and committee members.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you very much, sir.
Next on our agenda is Captain Duane Woerth. Captain Worth, would you proceed, sir? We will enter your full statement in the record, without objection.
Mr. WOERTH. Thank you, Mr. Hayes. We will save quite a bit of time. I will just cut to the chase. My statement is in the record.
I think Chairman Mica's opening comments covered a great deal of ground. First of all, the anti-blocking devices that Mr. Rutty just talked about, we fully support that. Twenty years ago one of the worst aviation disasters in aviation history, occured when 583 people were killed in the Canary Islands in a runway accident. One of the causes was a blocked radio transmission.
So, it is clear to me that everything Mr. Rutty said should be implemented. An NPRM, would get this done. It is not that expensive.
As to AMASS, the previous panel had quite a bit of discussion on that. I accept that it as way over budget. It doesn't do what we originally intended. But ALPA is hopeful and happy, frankly, that the FAA did at least take that step. Hopefully, we can improve it with better software.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I accept your comments, Mr. Hayes, that it is just one thing. I also like a lot of the other simpler solutions. I would like to go over some of those now. I am glad AMASS is there, but there are a lot of easier things to do that cost a lot less money that we should be doing.
In fact, in order to properly address this growing problem of runway incursions, we support fielding seven categories of safety enhancements, some of which have already been discussed.
The installation of GPS driven moving map displays in the cockpit to enhance the pilot's situational awareness. I am a little stunned to find out, Mr. Hayes, that I can get a rental car with a moving map. All my neighbors' boats in Florida have moving maps. Why it is so hard to get one in a cockpit is beyond me. I hope this committee can find out why it is so hard to get them for airliners when cars and boats can have them right now.
The use of improved standard operating procedures for ground operations across the industry. Current standardization is woefully inadequate. Every airport has different rules. Every airline has different methods. We need to standardize ground operations to the same degree we have standardized flight operations.
Improved pilot training, including action by the FAA to increase the significance of ground operations performance in all flight training.
Improved air traffic control procedures.
Improved training for air traffic controllers, particularly in the use of high fidelity visual tower simulators, which are similar to the quality of aircraft simulators routinely used for pilot training. I think John would agree. They have good simulator training for radar, but we need visual simulating of the tower control cab.
I know NASA-Ames already has a model. We can improve upon that.
Improved situational awareness technology for air traffic controllers, including ASDX, and emerging capabilities demonstrated in the FAA's Safe Flight 21 Program.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lastly, the simple visual aids enhancement and automation technology for airports, including improved all-weather signs that anybody can see in any kind of weather.
Visual runway occupancy for flight crews on final approach. That is a lighting system. Of course, the other smart lighting systems you described here. There are a lot of different systems that should be used and put in the place rather rapidly.
A more detailed explanation of these recommendations is contained in the paper attached to my testimony entitled, ''A Systems Approach to Solving Runway Incursions.''
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and I will answer any questions you may have later.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you.
Our next witness is John Carr, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Mr. CARR. Good afternoon, Congressman Hayes, Congressman Lipinski, and members of the subcommittee. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify this afternoon.
My name is John Carr and I am President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Enhancing runway safety and reducing the number of runway incursions and surface accidents is a top priority for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Solutions exist in new technology and new procedures and in heightening the awareness of pilots, controllers, and airport operators through education and training.
Much has already been mentioned about AMASS so I won't belabor the point. You know that it was originally designed as a runway incursion prevention tool and it was unable to meet those operational requirements. You know it was unable to meet those requirements because radar tracks all movements and all vehicles at the airport. I think the previous panel also mentioned false alerts. So, AMASS has now been deployed as a collision avoidance tool.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It kind of reminds me of the urban legend about Super Glue. It was originally intended to be the world's slickest lubricant until the fellow glued two fingers together and realized what he had.
So, AMASS was originally intended to be one thing and is now being deployed as another. But I believe that we can focus on the good things that it brings to the control towers. By focusing on potential collisions, we are able to eliminate some of the excessive false alerts that cause unnecessary and expensive missed approaches and that otherwise clog capacity.
AMASS does provide controllers with a useful and reliable warning system. While the cornerstone of the FAA's runway program is AMASS, there is a number of other on-going technological projects that will help prevent runway incursions.
NATCA has representatives working with the FAA to move these technologies into the work place as quickly and efficiently as possible. While the need for technology cannot be overstated, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the need for more concrete to meet the increased demand that is being placed on the system.
We are also working very closely with the FAA and other stakeholders to aggressively pursue some of the numerous non-technical solutions. We recently created a full time runway safety liaison. We have established work groups to address the FAA's ten near-term initiatives for reducing runway incursions.
Among these initiatives are increased controller training, pilot education, better runway marking, English language proficiency, memory enhancement techniques for controllers, and a review of pilot-controller phraseology.
We participate on the runway incursion action teams which conduct onsite evaluations at airports experiencing high numbers of incursions. We are actively involved in the Commercial Aviation Safety Team and the Runway Incursion Joint Safety Implementation Team.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to address a couple of the issues that I did hear the previous panel mention. First and foremost, Congressman Hayes, you mentioned what an extra set of eyes might do in the control tower. I could not agree with you more. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the ones we are least able to implement.
Congressman Baldacci mentioned using common sense and lights and signage. Cleveland Hopkins led the nation in runway incursions in about 1995 or 1996. They had 30 such events, until a controller by the name of Jeff Ireland recommended closing one taxiway and installing in-pavement lighting. The following year, Cleveland Hopkins had zero runway incursions. So, sometimes the simplest solutions can be the best.
I disagree with the NTSB's recommendations that we move to ICAO phraseology, ICAO landing clearances and ICAO intersection crossing clearances.
As the person who represents the people who work over half of the world's cargo and over half of the world's passengers on any given day in the aerospace footprint of the United States, I submit that maybe they should move towards us.
Regarding the example that you saw about the near-collision that happened at the midnight shift. Congestion was not a factor. Those were the only two airplanes that the controller was speaking to. Language was a barrier. The controller issues the instructions. The pilots read them back explicitly and then failed to follow them.
Any change in ICAO phraseology and procedures would not have changed the geometry of that event.
You have already heard from others that AMASS would not have changed it either.
Congressman Lipinski, you asked whether AMASS will work and whether or not controllers will use it. I give you a qualified yes on the first question. I believe that it will work for the new and functionally reduced purposes to which it is intended.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Absolutely, controllers will use it. We will use any technology that is give to us to aid us in the separation of air traffic. It is like a company car. You buy it for me and I will use it. I just hope it is a Cadillac and not a Yugo. But I will use it nonetheless.
The congestion on the frequencies, we support frequency-blocking technology, as well as the pilots. If it is quick and cheap and easy and improves the safety of the system, the air traffic controllers that I represent are absolutely all for it.
I know that they want controllers to speak slowly. The example in Chicago on the midnight shift, he was speaking about as slowing as he could. I speak rather rapidly myself.
It is interesting to note that just down the hall, Chairman Rogers has my gold stars that he is holding at bay until I improve the capacity of the system. So, we are kind of talking as fast as we can down there and we will slow it down when we come down here.
I thank you very much for the opportunity to testify. I will take any questions you may have.
Mr. HAYES. Next we have Mr. Jack Ryan, Acting Senior Vice President, Aviation Safety and Operations of the Air Transport Association.
Mr. RYAN. Thank you, Mr. Hayes and Mr. Lipinski. The subject of runway incursions is receiving greatly increased and well-deserved attention throughout the aviation community. The steady increase in the volume and density of air traffic has added new urgency to engaging and resolving the important issues that lead to runway incursions.
I will try to get to the bottom line. Improved technology offers some unique opportunities to reduce both frequency and severity of runway incursion. After a very long and tortured, but eventually a successful test program, FAA has approved AMASS for San Francisco and Detroit.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Detroit Metro Tower to see the newly commissioned AMASS system. Mr. Chairman, I was quite impressed with the Detroit operation and the dedication of FAA management technicians and controllers in bringing this system to full readiness.
It reminds me of the bumper sticker that I used to watch going out of the Washington Center's gate that said, ''Controllers make it work.'' In this case at Detroit, they did.
I also saw the prototype of the SENSIS Company's multi-lateration system that is being funded by NASA to develop surface management operations. This is the same system that FAA has selected for its ASDE-X Program to be deployed at 25 locations. I think it is going to be a great improvement over using ASDE-III because the ASDE-III problem at Detroit is false targets.
They are building a massive center concourse and every day they are coping with a new structure that the ASDE-III primary radar is bouncing the signal off. Every day they have to cope with remapping that system. They have done a great job in doing it.
ASDX multilateration system works on a totally different principle using the transponder on the airplane. I think it is going to be an improvement as the input sensor for AMASS for the time being.
Another technology using ADSB moving map displays is also being evaluated for installation in aircraft. This technology provides pilots with instantaneous and accurate position fixes on their location and the locations of other aircraft and vehicles so equipped on the airport movement area, even at night and during periods of reduced visibility due to inclement weather.
With the appropriate software, it will be the closest technology that may meet NTSB's most wanted recommendation. This very day the system is being evaluated as part of Safe Flight 21 in the Ohio Valley and should receive everyone's support and expedition.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Human error and how to reduce it constitutes the single greatest opportunity for mitigating risk and decreasing both frequency and severity of runway incursion. Bearing down on the human error issue across a broad front to include improved procedures, better training and modern technology will improve runway safety.
Mr. Chairman, in closing I recommend the following options be taken to reduce runway incursion:
The recent FAA Runway Safety Report was a good start in analyzing the severity of runway incursions. The next step is for the industry and FAA to analyze why and under what circumstances did a runway incursion occur and focus on fixing the causes.
Number two, since the number of pilot deviations in 1999 and 2000 is almost twice the number of operational errors in the two most severe categories and the number of GA pilot deviations is 46 percent of all the incursions in 2000, the FAA must concentrate on pilot training and human factors to deal with these deviations.
Number three, support FAA's efforts to field AMASS at the remaining 32 locations and their efforts to test and field an ADSB solution to the runway incursion problem.
Number four, FAA should extend the implementation of multilateration to the 34 original ASDE-III locations.
Number five, to deal with your issue of additional eyes in the tower, FAA needs to discontinue the current policy of reducing supervisors to achieve a controller-to-supervisor ratio of ten-to-one. Another set of highly experienced eyes has always been essential to a safe system.
In closing, at the current rate, runway incursions are rising in 2001. We can expect about 410 or pretty close to calendar year 2000's all-time record. We need to take action now.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our next panelist is the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Mr. Phil Boyer. Mr. Boyer, welcome.
Mr. BOYER. Well, thank you. I would like to acknowledge that in my 11 years this is the first time, albeit acting, that I have sat before this committee, and seen a pilot in that chair, which is nice.
As you well know, Acting Chairman, we represent at AOPA some 370,000 general aviation pilots. These are the people who fly for business and pleasure in small planes.
In addition, today I am here as the President of the Air Safety Foundation, our sister organization which doesn't just serve members, but also serves all pilots, whether or not they be members of AOPA. Their motto is: ''Safe pilots; safe skies.''
So, obviously, this topic of runway incursions has been a major topic for us over the past four to five years. We were very, very pleased to see this study just being issued because we have been doing studies ourselves over the past few years. It is interesting to hear the FAA say, ''We couldn't tell you whether it was IFR or VFR conditions because we have been keeping track of incursions in just that way.''
But remember, this study only covers towered airports. That is about 600 airports in our country whereas general aviation is going into some 5200 airports. So, I might also agree and disagree with the distinguished Inspector General, Ken Mead, and say that this is probably not our, general aviation's at least, number one problem.
This three-year study, and as a matter of fact, it finally did something we have been trying to get a handle on. That is it came up with classifications for these errors. While you can read those in the book, we were pleased that general aviation was not among the A's and B's, but primarily to a great majority, the C and D, or minor classifications.
In terms of these classifications, they even labeled them in the report that our incursions are predominantly minor in relative severity.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, the interesting thing to note also, and numbers have been batted around for some time, general aviation in this report, and it finally comes out, is responsible for about 60 percent of all incursions and, for heaven's sake, that is a majority. Yet, at the same time that is about our number of annual NAS operations. The same held true for air carriers, charters and others in the report.
So, our rate of incursions at towered airports is just about the same as all other segments of aviation.
Now to some of those details that we have been tracking. Pilot certificate level, our California Congresswoman asked about several of these things. It is interesting to note that the high two bars here are, yes, the private pilot, that would be our entry level or first pilot certification. But equal to that are the ATPs or the high time or in many cases the professional pilots.
How about number of hours? Well, in terms of incursions about 18 percent occurred with pilots under 300 hours, what we might consider lower-time pilots. However, 19 percent, or almost an equal number, occurred with pilots over 10,000 hours. So it isn't relative to new or older pilots. It really crosses the entire span.
When we look at comparisons, now let's look at a typical D type incursion in general aviation and put a picture to the words we have been hearing. This is a typical general aviation airplane crossing the hold line at an airport some distance, as you can see, from the airplane that is landing. That is classified as an incursion.
We talk about an increased number of incursions. That is because the FAA has a program. People put against this program to start tracking more and more of these.
Today's hearing is titled ''Focusing on Technology to Prevent Collisions.'' Thank goodness, I thought I was going to be the only voice here that wants to put a small ''x'' through that technology word and say, ''We have heard all these great things. They are terrific. But let us focus on the low-hanging fruit, the things we can do right now.''
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Technology is not a panacea. Situational awareness, paint on airports, proper signage, regulation change, and education can also go along with technology and be done right now.
I would say one of the most important things is the simply eye chart. Look outside the cockpit. As you were describing, why didn't that pilot look left? Why didn't another one look right? Remember in general aviation we are dealing in many cases with a single pilot in a cockpit with a high workload.
Technology is not a panacea when it comes to figuring out from six feet above the ground, the average height of a GA pilot, where you are on a busy airport. In low visibility or even nighttime conditions, is this the runway or where is the taxiway?
So, how about improving the paint at these airports? Here is just a simple sample. That stripe there that is going across the screen with a black background rather than just against a light concrete background.
How about signs? Proper signage has not been implemented at all airports at this time. We might think, oh, these are standard signs at every airport. They are not standard at every airport.
How about this procedure which was talked about by the NTSB as one of their recommendations? This sign is pretty obvious to all people who drive a car, STOP. This is means stop here. But there is a regulation in place right now, 91.129 that really sets up a procedure that has trapped many in terms of runway incursions.
This procedures states ''A clearance to taxi to the takeoff runway is not obviously a clearance to cross that assigned runway, but it is a clearance to cross other runways that intersect the taxi route to that assigned takeoff runway.''
What this means is that you come up to a runway and you see this red sign. Now you have to interpret whether that is the active runway or the one I was cleared to cross. There is no question when you are driving a car what you do in that situation. You stop and perhaps a solution may be to call John's members and say, ''Tower confirm that 4-GA is cleared to cross 15-2-3 or 1-1-9 or whatever.''
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, the FAA has dragged their feet on this. The controllers don't have a problem with it. I usually ask. They are happy to respond, ''Oh, yeah, thank you. I am sorry I didn't give that to you.''
Maybe we have to start our own campaign to have our pilots, at least in general aviation, voluntarily stop whenever they see red and ask, ''Am I cleared to cross?''
We have done many initiatives in our organization. We have chaired the FAA RE&D Advisory Committee. In 1998, our head of the Air Safety Foundation produced a report with 12 or 13 recommendations. Some of them we are hearing about today. That was in 1998 and they are not implemented yet.
AOPA has co-chaired the Safer Skies initiative. Administrator Garvey, every single month holds a meeting with a special team of her managers and we sit in on that. You have read our magazine, I am sure, where we have published articles on training. We have produced many safety brochures and put them out on our website, at FAA seminars.
In addition, we have done as many brochures and flyers that we can on proper markings. One thing that I am very excited about is the fact that we have added to our website runway diagrams for every single one of the Nation's towered airports.
Now, that may seem like nothing to Duane or an IFR pilot who says, we get those charts, we have them. But to the typical pilot, we don't have those charts. The VFR pilot has to buy them and in many cases they don't go ahead and do it. Now we provide them to them.
And we produced a video, as a matter of fact for one of our Congressmen in California's airports, Long Beach, that showed operations.
We are about ready to issue flash cards for flight instructors. They can hold up one side to a student and on the other side be prompted for what that sign really means.
It is amazing when you get into this amount of detail, how many of these things are not known by the average pilot. Unique to about two months ago, we just set up an interactive, Internet tutorial for all pilots. They can go in and in 25 minutes begin to take and go through a test on how much they know about runway signage and about runway incursions.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are using NATCA voices, actual controllers at their own talking speed to help us with this and we are giving Wings credit. This is just a sample that I am running through of the various scenarios, but it does give a great example of what is there.
Now, we are not against technology. You have heard about it all day. Let me show you: This is the new technology coming to cockpits. It is going to be in general aviation and already in some air carrier type aircraft.
It is called the multi-function display, nothing more than a computer screen like we are looking at now, but you can put a variety of information up. Here it is in a typical general aviation airplane. Using GPS the airplane it can depict exactly where is its position on the ramp. Here it is again. I shot this just last Sunday at our airport at Frederick, Maryland. There is the airplane approaching the hold line for that runway.
Now, when you add ADSB as some of our panelists have talked about, you will not only see the airplane itself, but you will also see ground vehicles that may be so equipped.
There is a lot on the horizon. I would claim it is not all just technology oriented. Let us pick off the low-hanging fruit and get on with this important concern.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MICA [RESUMING CHAIR]. I want to thank each of the witnesses on this panel. I think we have finished all of them. I apologize. I had to run to the Floor, but I am back now.
Let me see if Mr. Lipinski has any questions to start with.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, Phil, I want to congratulate you on another magnificent presentation here today. I always enjoy your presentations very, very much. I particularly enjoyed it today because I concur with you. I don't think technology is the panacea that we are sometimes led to believe.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You put forth many practical ideas there. I understand that the FAA is trying to work some of those into the system. I hope that they can accelerate working them into the system, because I think it is a lot less expensive, it is a lot more practical and it is a lot more effective than this technology that we continually find ourselves spending millions and millions of dollars on and not coming up with the proper solution.
So, I thank you for that presentation, as I say, particularly since I agree with you so much on it.
Mr. Carr, you must have spent some time in the City of Chicago working. I know that you did. I assume that is where you learned how to speak as rapidly as you have spoken here today. I appreciate what you had to say, also.
You don't really have any objections to me trying to get the pilots to have more information, though, so they don't have to go through all your controllers; do you? I mean your controllers have plenty to do right now.
Mr. CARR. None whatsoever, absolutely. I spent ten years at O'Hare, by the way.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I assumed that.
Mr. Rutty, I would like to see us get this radio situation resolved as rapidly as possible. I don't know why we have not done so. People talk about things costing money. But the money we spend in regards to so many of these technological improvements that only come up to be about 25 percent of what we anticipated them being in the first place, I think if we didn't spend so much there we could certainly spend the money to do some very practical things that you have suggested here and that Mr. Boyer had suggested.
I think those are the only comments I have to make with regards to this. I don't have any questions, Mr. Chairman, because I have to go to another meeting which started about 25 minutes ago. So, I will turn it back to you. Thank you.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MICA. I thank the Ranking Member.
Now, let me turn to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Hayes.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank all of you for appearing today. It has been very helpful. Sometimes we know too much up here. But the simplest things provide the most immediate and the most meaningful solutions.
Runway incursions are a serious problem, but they are not a complicated problem for the most part. Mr. Rutty, your idea about the microphone-blocked transmission is very important. Stuck mikes, how many times have you heard somebody on a frequency with a stuck mike? So, again, some of the simplest things make the biggest difference.
Mr. RUTTY. I didn't make it clear, but the stuck mike problem is solved in the same circuitry. Way back in the early 1980s the FAA said, ''We want stuck mike relief, too.''
My partner in the back there, Al Arndt, said, ''Okay,'' and he took care of the problem then. It is in the specifications.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, sir.
Everybody who is involved in aviation is concerned with safety. I think that is very clear. I might observe momentarily that the FAA was being attacked maybe that is an overstatement were being pressed on issues that really aren't the targets.
There are a number of things I would like to see the FAA do better, but the ones mentioned today were not my high priorities.
I would like to see more printers in remote towers where they can communicate without picking up a phone and being distracted. I would like to see the bright scopes. I would like to see it happen in something less than a two-year time frame. These are things that we can become more flexible on.
But the issues raised here today about runway hold-short and these kinds of things are again, not a problem of the FAA, but I appreciate all of you being here.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It has been a great service. We have added a lot of good information to the debate, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your having this hearing and I know we will continue.
Mr. MICA. I thank you.
Mr. Boyer, you indicated that there were some simple things that could be done to prevent more of these incursions. How would you propose financing them? Is this something that the airports should self-finance through AIP funds, through some other program that we should make available?
Mr. BOYER. I think we have actually put the financing together before we put the action in. We did that with the help of this committee in the passage of AIR-21 and the substantial increase in the Airport Improvement Program funding.
Mr. MICA. The money is there?
Mr. BOYER. Yes, the money is there for these kinds of things.
Mr. MICA. It is going to be local authorities basically that make those decisions or maybe it is FAA that should have folks by edict or suggestion ask that these simple improvements be made.
Mr. BOYER. Well, we heard testimony earlier that the Runway Safety Program manager lacks some of the authority over the broad spectrum in the FAA. There is even talk about putting him on the air traffic control side only.
There are many airport district offices around the country that monitor our airports with Federal funds, particularly those with towers where these problems occur. Those airport district offices could make sure that the proper signage is up. It is unbelievable, but just this morning I learned that all the standard signage is not at the Charleston, South Carolina Airport. That is an air carrier and GA airport combined.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Carr, I noted in some of the other programs, the air traffic controllers had worked very closely in the development of the technology. Were you doing the same with the development of this AMASS technology?
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CARR. We didn't enter into AMASS in its inception. It is a software enhancement to an already existing piece of hardware. We are not software writers.
But we are participants in the team that has been put together to develop it and to field it and to do operational readiness demonstrations. But we don't write the software.
Mr. MICA. I know, but even in the development of the other programs and the software, the air traffic controllers have said, ''We want this whistle. We want this bell. We want this capability. You have been doing that from the start in this program?
Mr. CARR. Not from the very beginning, but almost the very beginning. Actually, when AMASS was originally proposed, it encompassed the entire airport and it was through the efforts of our representatives that we identified that using the whole airport was generating so many false alarms as to make AMASS unusable as a collision-avoidance tool.
So, we came aboard shortly after it was implemented and designed and fielded. It was through some of our efforts that we found out that rather than doing a whole airport approach to AMASS, if you just focused on the runway, if you just focused on the primary runway, you could eliminate most of the false alerts and raise the confidence level of the people using the system.
Mr. MICA. The observation that you are citing now, is that the case with the two AMASS systems that have been commissioned?
Mr. CARR. Do you mean the two that have actually been installed in San Francisco and Detroit?
Mr. MICA. And commissioned, right.
Mr. CARR. Yes, yes it is.
Mr. MICA. And there are limited false alerts on those or the false alerts are at an acceptable level?
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CARR. Exactly. The false alerts still exist, however they have been reduced sufficiently and are at an acceptable level.
Mr. MICA. Now, the other thing that disturbed me is a question to Ken Mead about whether or not this would really be used and useful. What is the reluctance for utilization of this by air traffic controllers? Is it a lack of training, familiarity, opposition to this equipment being required to be used, user lack of friendliness? What do you think?
Mr. CARR. It is absolutely not a lack of confidence or a lack of desire for technology. Air traffic controllers very much want to see new technology fielded. As a matter of fact, the organization that I report, we have 65 representatives on every technology project that the FAA is currently working on providing real time controller expertise.
We embrace new technology. The hesitancy to use technology without having it tested to 9-9s is that when you have a technology that gives you false alerts, it can sometimes create or exacerbate problems or create greater problems than the original problem it was intended to mitigate.
This particular technology, for example, indicating a consistent stream of near collisions causing the controller to send an airplane on short final around or to divert an aircraft out of harm's way when no such collision was imminent, wreaks havoc in the system.
So, it is not a hesitance or a reticence to embrace new technology. It is just a requirement that it be as perfect as we are required to be.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Ryan, did you want to respond?
Mr. RYAN. Yes, sir. I wanted to follow on what John said. I am not sure why Mr. Mead believes there might be some reluctance. I visited Detroit Metro tower last Thursday to see AMASS. I watched the nine or ten or eleven people in the tower who seemed to be pretty happy that the system had been commissioned about six days before that.
It was only through their efforts and the efforts of the technicians that the problems with the false targets that had been prevalent at Detroit before it was commissioned had been eliminated up to that point and in the six days there had been no false alerts.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I certainly saw no reluctance on the part of the controllers to use it. I think they were pretty happy that the tool was up and working.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Woerth, there was a question earlier relating to any studies or information that might be available on the profile of the pilots who were involved in these incursions, age, fatigue, training. Have there been any studies by the Air Line Pilots Association directly related to the incidence of incursions or any information we can place in the record?
Mr. WOERTH. Mr. Chairman, not into that level of detail you are talking about, by the age of the pilot or the number of flying hours. We haven't done any studies that broke it down the way you just described by age of the pilot, number of flying hours or any of those kinds of things.
Frankly, until the FAA broke down their categories by the seriousness of the incident and the number of incursions, we have been relying more on their data. We have not been doing our own.
Mr. MICA. If you were going to prioritize our responsibility for getting this system deployed, how would you approach that? You have seen what has been presented here as far as the installation plan? Is that adequate? Do you think this is properly targeted?
I notice some of the high incursion airports are not the highest on the list for installation. Mr. Woerth?
Mr. WOERTH. I am not sure what priority the FAA uses to install which of those 34 airports first.
Mr. MICA. You have pilots flying into these airports. Would you do it on a risk basis and prioritize them or what?
Mr. WOERTH. I think if we are talking simply about AMASS, I think it is about the difficulty of the runway design. The more intersections there are, the more difficulty. The buildings there are, the more false positives or false returns. They will have limited use.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, if they are software problems, I am hoping they are putting them into a priority, whatever tool it is will have the most use. That is our hope.
I would like to emphasize, however, as we have testified before in front of this committee, proper signage, some of the simpler things, the sooner those get implemented the better. I would actually put a higher priority on that, I think. Some of the simpler things lead to the errors, more often than not.
Certainly, Mr. Rutty's anti-blocking device, anything that can be done to help the human being, especially if he has been working 16 hours, he is going to make a mistake. Let us do everything we can to help that pilot out.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Boyer?
Mr. BOYER. Our Congresswoman from Las Vegas was mentioning the concern she had for North Las Vegas as an example of an airport that is not targeted.
We have to look at the airport design, as others have said, and that one is a difficult one with crossing taxiways to runways. But an important thing happened there since the FAA laid out their schedule. That was that they moved all of the scenic airline flights that go out of Las Vegas with the tourists, those small piston-powered twin-engine planes, all of those were moved from McCarran to North Las Vegas.
So, that was a major dramatic change. While we characterize that as a general aviation airport, it is really now a scenic flight airport. Those changes, those operators who come into that airport turn off fast, want to get to the terminal as fast as they can, pick up the next load and get out. We have to more quickly adapt to the changes in airports such as that one because that one is not an airport that is targeted for AMASS, for instance.
Mr. CARR. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MICA. Mr. Carr.
Mr. CARR. If I could just add, the FAA and the individuals responsible for the AMASS deployment and waterfall schedule did in fact prioritize the installations in terms of, to the best of their ability, the ease with which they could install them.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For instance, San Francisco being flat, on an ocean, you don't have a lot of mountainous terrain or obstructions or radar reflections or hangar issues. So when they decided on that waterfall, which, as the Inspector General testified, is an overly aggressive waterfall, they did that with the knowledge that they were attempting to install it easiest to hardest.
They didn't, at that time, have the their own data with respect to the severity of runway incursions at those airports that you mentioned.
Mr. MICA. Sometimes the problems are at your more complicated airports and you are most at risk there.
I notice this is sort of common throughout all the installations and deployments of different equipment. I can see why they try to do the easy first.
But the problem is that you have to concentrate where you have the highest risk and get there as soon as possible.
One of the things that concerns me is that we are courting disaster if we don't do something as far as deployment of this equipment, make it operational and available as soon as possible.
I think you have also, through your testimony today, provided some insight into some doable, small items that can make a difference.
Mr. Rutty, I believe, has also pointed out an area where we have a severe problem in communications. I wasn't here for all the responses. Was it the pilots who endorsed that?
Mr. RUTTY. Absolutely.
Mr. MICA. We didn't hear from Mr. Ryan. Did we hear from you on the Rutty proposal?
Mr. RYAN. Yes, sir. My only question would be: Certainly blocked mikes can be a nuisance, and in the cited accident from 24 years ago, certainly a disaster. But in the analysis of runway incursions that FAA is doing now. Look over the 1397 runway incursions, go one level deeper, I mean I would be interested.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I don't object to Mr. Rutty's solution to block mikes, but I would be interested in how many runway incursions have an involvement with a blocked radio transmission. I am not sure we know that level of detail unless Phil knows from part of his study.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Boyer?
Mr. BOYER. We don't have the facts on that. But just to add one thing more, I think all of us who fly know that this is a problem that has been a problem traditionally as everyone has cited.
It is one of the new technologies available, as there are many. We are on the verge, and I know Jack is aware of this and Duane, on the verge of setting up what is the future communications technology for our airplanes. What are the black boxes we are going to put in for the future?
The question is: Do we piecemeal it now with, say, the anti-blocking radio or this or that or do we build that solution into the overall next generation? So one replacement radio for everyone that is out there now does the trick rather than a small set of changes that are incremental.
The only exception I take to his testimony is that none of us have ever walked into an avionics shop and gotten away for $200.
Mr. MICA. Well, I want to thank each of our witnesses this afternoon, both for your patience and also for your participation. I think our purpose is to try to see what we can do about runway incursions. They do pose a tremendous threat to the traveling public's safety.
Unfortunately, we have seen a dramatic increase in incursions, which have more than doubled in less than a decade. Unfortunately, the system that FAA is working on to deal with this, AMASS, is at least six years behind schedule and two or three times over budget.
We do need to get this system operational and deployed and used so that it will provide us a little bit more protection and safety on the runways, particularly now that we have more crowded runways and airports and higher numbers of landings and takeoffs throughout the United States.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have a responsibility here. We have given a charge to FAA to report back to the subcommittee on a monthly basis any changes in the schedule or cost. I think that it is important that we hold their feet to the fire and see that taxpayers' dollars are wisely expended.
There being no further business to come before the subcommittee this afternoon, again, I want to thank our witnesses. We appreciate your testimony and participation. I declare this hearing adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5:25 p.m. the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]
Prepared Statement of Phil Boyer
Good afternoon, my name is Phil Boyer, and I am President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. AOPA enjoys the financial support of over 371,000 dues paying members. Our objective as an association is to promote the interests of those who contribute to our economy by taking advantage of general aviation aircraft to fulfill their business and personal transportation needs. More than half of all pilots in the United States are members of AOPA, making it the world's largest pilot organization. Our sister organization, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's (ASF) mission is to bring safety education to all general aviation pilots, not just AOPA members. Their motto is Safe Pilots; Safe Skies. One of the Foundation's most significant programs features over 200 safety seminars a year, reaching 32,500 pilots. These seminars are held in partnership with the FAA.
The FAA has just released a Runway Safety Report looking at the number and severity of incursions at towered airports between 1997 and 2000. Runway incursions are an issue in which AOPA has great concern as 60 percent of all incursions involve general aviation aircraft. However, as we look behind those numbers we see incursions involving general aviation aircraft are generally of a less serious nature. The subject of this hearing is focusing on technology to prevent runway collisions. I would submit to the Subcommittee that technology is not the panacea or total solution to this problem. Our effort over the past four years has been to focus on the immediate opportunities to prevent collisions. We believe a great deal can be accomplished in addressing general aviation incursions without depending totally on multi-million dollar procurements that will take years to accomplish. Improving the quality of the paint used at airports, ensuring that airports are adequately painted and improving signage in combination with education will go a long way toward reducing general aviation runway incursions. Since we last reported to the Subcommittee on this issue in 1997 a number of initiatives are now underway that I am confident will result in a reduction in our incursions.
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As members of the Subcommittee may know, AOPA has co-chaired an important initiative under the FAA's Safer Skies Program to review the causes of runway incursions and develop an implementation plan based on this data to reduce incursions in the future. Prior to that the Executive Director of our Air Safety Foundation chaired a RE&D Advisory Committee that in January 1998 produced 12 incursion reduction initiatives. In addition, I personally serve as the only outside participant in Administrator Garvey's management team on runway safetya periodically scheduled meeting between the Administrator and all of her top-level managers.
THE CAUSES OF RUNWAY INCURSIONS
The numbers alone do not tell the whole story of runway incursions. To understand what is behind these figures, and to understand how the aviation community is dealing with the issue, we must look at the causes of runway incursions.
First, I mentioned the latest FAA study that showed the majority of incursions, 60 percent, involve general aviation aircraft. However, the study also noted that figure is proportional with general aviation's percentage of aircraft operations. In fact, according to FAA the number of incursions for each type of aircraft operation was in proportion to their representation in the NAS. Previous studies indicate that incursions are also not tied to certificate type. For example, an airline transport rated pilot is just as likely to cause an incursion as a private pilot. Incursions also do not appear related to time in cockpit as almost as many incursions occur to pilots with over 10,000 hours of flying time as those with under 300 hours of flying time. Most incursions, 63 percent, occur under visual flight conditions. Finally and most importantly, according to FAA runway incursions most commonly involve two general aviation aircraft and are predominately minor in relative severity. Using an A through D scale with A representing incursions at high speed requiring radical evasive action, general aviation incidents were overwhelmingly C & D category incursions where by definition there is little or no chance of collision with ample time and distance to avoid a potential collision.
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So the picture that emerges is that general aviation incursions occur during daytime, visual flight conditions and are not a significant danger. As we will outline later, we are implementing a number of initiatives to address these.
Virtually all runway incursions are unintentional. The most common error by pilots that lead to runway incursions is entering a runway without clearance, meaning the pilot moves into a takeoff position prematurely or crosses a runway without clearance. The cause of these unintentional errors that lead to runway incursions by both general aviation and air carriers is the pilot not knowing where he/she is on the runway or taxiway. Situational awareness is key to solving this problem. Therefore to address these incidents one must first educate the pilot. With that so stated, inadequate, confusing, or poorly visible signs or markers and poor communication with air traffic controllers can exacerbate the situation. The best analogy is signs, painted lines, and traffic lights on the roads. If these traffic controls are inadequate, confusing, or poorly visible, many near misses and a few accidents may result.
EDUCATION IS CRITICAL
Education is the key to reaching pilots, and that's the course we have followed at AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation for the past four years.
Our monthly magazines, AOPA Pilot, with a circulation of 371,000, and Flight Training, with a circulation of 90,000, include articles and tips on avoiding runway incursions. The Air Safety Foundation has also developed special Safety Advisor booklets on pilot operations at towered airports, operations at non-towered airports, single pilot Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), and collision avoidance. These publications stress that the key to safe operations is awareness, preflight planning, focus and organization.
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Our publications point out to pilots the risk of causing a runway incursion can be greatly reduced by good preflight planning. Pilots are trained to carefully plan the enroute portion of their flight, but we are now pointing out the importance of that same careful planning for arrival and departure ground operations. Specifically, a pilot must review detailed airport diagrams before taxiing or landingparticularly at unfamiliar airports. Being aware of airport markings such as taxiways, holding positions and runway boundaries is critical. Basic preflight planning includes nonstandard procedures, obstacle clearance, taxi routes, traffic patterns and communication requirements.
A typical VFR pilot uses government enroute charts, but without an expensive subscription the pilot does not have access to airport taxi and runway diagrams. I am pleased to report that AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, in conjunction with the FAA Runway Safety Program Office, now provides airport taxi diagrams, updated regularly on AOPA Online (www.aopa.org) for the 330 busiest towered airports in the country. This is available to all pilots, not just AOPA members.
But we're not stopping there, Mr. Chairman. In order to ensure pilots know how to use those airport diagrams, I am also pleased to report the ASF has launched an interactive Runway Safety Program. Also available on our website to all pilots, it's the first web-based refresher course that has been certified by the FAA as part of their Wings pilot proficiency award program. It is an interactive course that trains and educates pilots on incursion avoidance and includes a runway safety quiz that tests the pilot's knowledge of airport markings and prepares pilots for possible arrival and departure scenarios. To date, over 21,000 have visited the site and 5,000 pilots have completed the course.
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In addition, a videotape emphasizing safe operation at towered airports was jointly developed by FAA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. It is available to pilots, flight schools and safety councilors.
Finally, the Air Safety Foundation has created a set of instructional flash cards designed to test and reinforce runway signage and procedures information. These cards will be distributed in our publications, on the web, and Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics.
CLARIFICATION OF REGULATIONS
Beyond education, Mr. Chairman, we believe the ATC operating procedure described in 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section 91.129(i), ''Takeoff, Landing, Taxi Clearance,'' needs to be reexamined. This requirement implies clearance for aircraft to cross runways, but controllers do not issue an explicit crossing instruction for each runway after the previous runway has been crossed. It seems appropriate that this change. Clearances from controllers should not be implied. Like the universal red stop sign for automobiles, pilots should consider red runway signs the aviation equivalent and voluntarily stop and request clearance at all runways before crossing.
Finally, Mr. Chairman let's consider the possibilities of technology. Laying aside the issue of mandatory equipage and costs, the fact is anytime a new box goes into a general aviation aircraft it also creates another excuse for a pilot to be looking in the cockpit rather than out the window ''seeing and avoiding.''
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One research and development project that AOPA is specifically involved in, along with the Cargo Airline Association and the FAA, is the Safe Flight 21 program (SF21). This program is being used by the FAA, industry and users to evaluate advanced aviation technology. The program tests in-cockpit, multi-function displays of weather, terrain and traffic, a display greatly improving situational awareness and safety. Our home airport at Frederick, Maryland, is a SF21 test site and we are excited by the possibilities of this technology.
Without traveling to Alaska we were able to demonstrate this technology to the new head of FAA's Runway Safety Program and his deputy just last month at our Frederick, Maryland, headquarters. One can literally see real time weather and traffic and, for the purposes of runway incursion, we see in the cockpit an airport diagram with our position to within one wingspan. It's exciting technology that will increase safety but it's technology that will not be needed by every pilot, nor is it immediately available for implementation. The House Appropriations Committee has recently increased funding of this program above the Administration request and we commend them for doing so.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for the opportunity to present our views. Let me assure all members of the Subcommittee that we take the issue of runway incursions very seriously. Safety and education are at the heart of AOPA's mission and we look forward to working with you to ensure our runways are safe for all pilots and the traveling public.
Prepared Statement of Carol J. Carmody
Good morning, Chairman Mica and members of the Committee. I am glad to be here representing the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) before you today to provide testimony on runway safety and anti-blocking radios.
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As demonstrated by last summer's flight cancellations, the continued growth of commercial aviation and the general aviation fleet increasingly strain the U.S aviation system infrastructure. This growth is challenging the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) system, and requires additional oversight and vigilance to ensure the safety of the aviation system.
According to the FAA, the number of air travelers will increase from 604 million in 2000, to more than 926 million by 2012. In addition, the FAA projects that aircraft operations at air route traffic control centers will increase from 46 million in 2000, to about 63 million in 2012. The number of passengers on foreign flag air carriers traveling to or from the United States is also expected to increase from approximately 139 million in 2000, to 267 million by 2012.
This increase in traffic highlights the potential for more incidents or accidents on runways. Federal Aviation Administration data show there were 431 runway incursions in the United States last year, more than twice the 200 incursions that occurred in 1994, and a significant increase from the 322 incursions in 1999. In 2000, the rate of runway incursions per 100,000 operations was .64, up from .46 in 1999. Through June 10 of this year, 178 runway incursions were reported4 more than during the same period in 2000.
The following eight incidents are runway incursions that occurred since February 2000 in which we have reviewed information:
February 2000At Detroit, Michigan, the crew of a Northwest DC- 10 on final approach initiated a go-around maneuver to avoid a Northwest A320 cleared for takeoff. The airplanes missed each other by 300 feet vertical and .44 miles horizontal.
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March 2000At Sarasota, Florida, the tower air traffic controller cleared a Cessna airplane onto the runway in front of another Cessna airplane that had been cleared for takeoff, resulting in a collision and the loss of four lives. In our final report, we cited failures in air traffic control procedures as causal and contributing factors.
May 2000At Chicago's Midway Airport, an American Trans Air Boeing 727 was on final approach when the flight crew initiated a go-around maneuver shortly before landing to avoid a Rockwell Aero Commander that was holding on the runway awaiting takeoff clearance. The Boeing 727 passed about 60 feet over the other aircraft.
May 2000At Chicago's Midway Airport, a Cessna Citation business jet was holding in position on a runway awaiting takeoff clearance when the tower controller cleared a Beech King Air to land on the same runway. Distracted with other duties, the controller failed to resolve the conflict until the King Air crossed the airport boundary. The controller instructed the King Air pilot to go around, but not in time to avoid overflying the Citation. The aircraft missed each other by an estimated 400 feet.
December 2000At Providence, Rhode Island, the flight crew of a US Airways A320 aborted its takeoff because the front of a Southwest Boeing 737 was protruding over the hold short line on the active runway. The US Airways airplane was traveling at approximately 30 to 70 knots when it passed in front of the Southwest airplane. Because the visibility was 1/4 mile with fog and blowing snow, the tower could not see the area of the incursion. The tower was not equipped with a ground radar system or other type of ground movement safety system.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC January 2001At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a TWA MD80 flew over an American Airlines MD80, missing it by an estimated 60 feet. The tower local controller had cleared the TWA aircraft for takeoff from runway 16L and instructed the American Airlines airplane to hold short of the runway. However, the flight crew misunderstood the controller and crossed 16L. Visibility at the time of the incident was 1/4 mile with fog.
March 2001At Fort Lauderdale International Airport, Florida, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 flew over a US Airways Boeing 737, missing it by less than 100 feet. The Delta airplane was cleared to land on runway 27R while on 5-mile final approach, and the US Airways airplane was cleared to taxi into position and hold on runway 27R. At the time of the incident, the tower controller was distracted by other duties and failed to advise the Delta flight crew of the US Airways airplane's departure from runway 27R or to advise the US Airways flight crew of the Delta airplane's arrival, as required by FAA procedures.
May 2001At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, an American Airlines Fokker 100 missed colliding with an Amflight metroliner by approximately 100 feet. The controller instructed the Amflight airplane to cross runway 18L and turn onto a taxiway. The pilot crossed the runway, then turned back on to the runway in front of the departing American flight.
The Safety Board is also assisting in the investigation of an October 2000, accident in which 81 people died when a Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 struck a concrete barrier and hit a construction site as it mistakenly took off from a closed runway at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, Taiwan.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fortunately, there have been few actual collisions and the number of fatalities has been small. Although 75 percent of runway incursions this calendar year have involved small general aviation aircraft, many of the factors involved could affect air carrier airplanes, and the potential for a catastrophic accident only increases with time if the rate of errors is not reduced.
In 1991, the NTSB recommended that the FAA expedite efforts to fund the development and implementation of an operational system analogous to the airborne conflict alert system to alert controllers to pending runway incursions at all terminal facilities that are scheduled to receive airport surface detection equipment (A9129). In March 2000, nine years after the recommendation was made, the Board changed its status from ''Open-Acceptable'' to ''Open-Unacceptable'' action because the Board does not believe that AMASS as currently designed meets the safety goals of the original system promised by the FAA. AMASS does not appear to be able to provide sufficient warning time to prevent some runway collisions and does not provide direct warnings to flight crews and other vehicle operators.
The runway incursion issue has remained on the Board's ''Most Wanted'' list since its inception in 1990. This list highlights issues the Board believes have the most potential to improve safety, save lives, and reduce accidents and injuries.
Since 1973, the Safety Board has issued over 100 safety recommendations regarding runway incursion issues. On July 6, 2000, following a special Board meeting, the Safety Board issued six additional safety recommendations to the FAA regarding this matter, and information regarding those recommendations is provided below. You will note that three of the six recommendations are in an unacceptable status.
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Require, at all airports with scheduled passenger service, a ground movement safety system that will prevent runway incursions; the system should provide a direct warning capability to flight crews. In addition, demonstrate through computer simulations or other means that the system will, in fact, prevent incursions (A0066);
Require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific air traffic control clearance (A0067);
Require that when aircraft need to cross multiple runways, air traffic controllers issue an explicit crossing instruction for each runway after the previous runway has been crossed (A0068);
Discontinue the practice of allowing departing aircraft to hold on active runways at nighttime or any time when ceiling and visibility conditions preclude arriving aircraft from seeing traffic on the runway in time to initiate a safe go-around maneuver (A0069) (in an unacceptable status);
Adopt the landing clearance procedure recommended by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Document 4444RAC/501 (A0070) (in an unacceptable status); and
Require the use of standard ICAO phraseology for airport surface operations and periodically emphasize to controllers the need to use this phraseology and to speak at reasonable rates when communicating with all flight crews, especially those whose primary language is not English (A0071) (in an unacceptable status).
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Although the FAA has taken numerous actions in response to Safety Board recommendations, as well other runway incursion-related recommendations made by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General and others, it is disconcerting that the number of runway incursions has not diminished. The Safety Board remains concerned that FAA's efforts to address runway incursions through technological development falls short of what is needed, and believes some operational measuresas recommendedshould be taken.
In 1991, the FAA stated that the cornerstone of its runway incursion efforts was the development and implementation of the Airport Movement Area Safety System, or AMASS. AMASS works by generating an audible and visual alert to controllers when an aircraft or vehicle is occupying a runway and an arriving aircraft is 1/2 to 3/4 mile from the runway threshold or a departing aircraft on the runway is detected by the system and is moving at approximately 80 feet per second or 47 knots. The visual and audible alert parameters were not based on human performance studies, but were empirically determined based on tests conducted with a prototype AMASS system.
Following the investigation of an incident that occurred at O'Hare International Airport in 1999, the NTSB asked the FAA to conduct a simulation of AMASS performance using data from several runway incursion incidents investigated by the Safety Board. The simulations showed that AMASS would not have generated warnings in sufficient time for controllers and flight crews to respond effectively and prevent the incidents. Following the simulation, the FAA modified its position in 1999 and stated that AMASS would not prevent runway incursions but, rather, runway collisions. Incidentally, of the eight incidents I mentioned earlier, half would not have been prevented by AMASS.
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Since the FAA awarded its AMASS development contract in September 1990, there has been one delay after another. For example:
May 1992The FAA reported that the first delivery of an operational AMASS system to a field facility was planned for November 1994.
October 1993The FAA confirmed the initial field delivery date as ''early fiscal year 1995.''
October 1995The FAA revised its delivery schedule and reported that the first field AMASS system would begin an operational requirements demonstration in October 1997, with all 40 contracted systems installed and operational by 2000.
August 1996The FAA signed a modified contract for the AMASS project and reported that the delivery of production systems would be completed by August 2000.
1997, 1998, and 1999The first evaluation systems were delivered to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; and Atlanta, Georgia.
April 1999The FAA reiterated in a letter to the NTSB that the final delivery date would be August 2000.
October 1999The FAA provided the Safety Board with a revised AMASS schedule, which stated that all 40 contracted systems were scheduled for installation by December 2000; however, it also stated that human factors and operational issues related to the system design had not yet been resolved.
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October 6, 1999During a briefing to the Safety Board on the National Runway Safety Program, the FAA stated that it anticipated that these issues would be resolved by January 2001, and that it expected all 40 systems to become operational between August 2001 and October 2002.
March 6, 2001During a briefing to the Safety Board, the FAA stated that new AMASS software was installed at San Francisco on February 19, 2001, and that the facility was on schedule for operation in June 2001.
June 6, 2001The San Francisco AMASS system was commissioned for operational use.
June 15, 2001The Detroit AMASS system was commissioned for operational use.
The FAA has also stated that AMASS is expected to be operational at 32 of the nation's busiest airports by 2003. The Safety Board remains concerned, judging by past schedule revisions, that even this schedule will not be met. The Board also believes that current AMASS parameters may not provide controllers and flight crews sufficient time to intervene and react to maintain safe separation in all circumstances. We believe that a key element that is missing is to provide a direct warning to flight crews or vehicle operators. Therefore, we question the viability of AMASS to prevent runway collisions under various conditions, and believe the FAA should conduct additional simulations of AMASS's performance to test its ability to provide effective alerts under real-world conditions.
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In October 1993, the FAA reported that it was evaluating several different technologies for managing airport surface movements, including differential global positioning systems, loop and magnetic sensors, and marine X-band radar systems, in lieu of installing full airport surface detection equipment, also known as ASIDE, at lower-activity airports. On March 23, 1998, the FAA stated that it was continuing research and development of low-cost ASDE alternatives, including evaluation of marine X-band radar and phased-array radar systems. In addition, the FAA is collaborating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to test and demonstrate an integrated surface movement management system. Safety Board staff have been briefed by NASA on its work on heads-up displays and moving map displays that would provide aircraft movement information directly to pilots. The initial demonstrations for these technologies have indicated that they provide real time position to flight crews and may prevent incursions by improving the situational awareness of both pilots and controllers. These technologies appear to offer reliable accurate traffic information directly to flight crews much faster than transmitting ground-based alerts to aircraft.
The FAA advised the Board that on November 22, 2000, it awarded the ASDEX contract to Sensis Corporation, and that an operational readiness demonstration was scheduled for April 2003. Informal discussions with the FAA indicate that the ASDEX system, as currently designed, will provide aircraft identification to air traffic controllers. It does not, however, provide any conflict alert information, nor does it provide information to pilots or vehicle operators. Future design changes would incorporate AMASS conflict alert logic into the ASDEX system. As the FAA has so far been unable to implement comprehensive conflict logic in AMASS, the Safety Board is concerned that the same technical problems may affect ASDEX.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, in 1993, FAA estimated that AMASS would cost $59.8 million and be installed in 1996. The Department of Transportation's Inspector General reported in March 2000, that costs were then estimated to reach $151.8 million, a $92 million increase. We can only assume that this figure is higher today. Board staff has also been advised that the cost of the ASDEX systems has increased from an initial projection of $100,000 to approximately $4.6 million due to operational requirements.
It has been nearly 10 years since the Board issued its recommendation that the FAA expedite efforts to fund the development and implementation of an operational system to alert controllers to pending runway incursions at all terminal facilities that are scheduled to receive airport surface detection equipment. Ten years later, only two AMASS systems have been commissioned for full operational use at airports in the United States. Despite many years of research and development and the expenditure of over $150 million, the FAA has been unable to procure ground movement safety systems suitable for use at airports to prevent runway 8 incursions. In February 2001, the FAA awarded five contracts for new surface technology; however, none of them will provide information directly to flight crews as the Safety Board has recommended. The FAA needs to establish critera for installation of airport ground movement safety systems and commit to a specific date for completion of the acquisition and delivery of these systems.
In October 1999, the FAA established a National Runway Safety Program to identify the potential seventy of an incursion and reduce the likelihood of incursions through training, technology, communications, procedures, airport signs/marking/lighting, data analysis and developing local solutions. The FAA's initiatives include:
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Promoting aviation community participation in runway safety activities and solution;
Appointing nine regional runway safety program managers;
Providing training, education, and awareness for pilots, controllers, and vehicle operators;
Publishing an advisory circular for airport surface operations;
Increasing the visibility of runway hold line markings;
Reviewing pilot-controller phraseology;
Providing foreign air carrier pilot training, education, and awareness;
Requiring all pilot checks, certifications, and flight reviews to incorporate performance evaluations of ground operations and test for knowledge; and
Increasing runway incursion action team site visits from 25 in 2000 to a planned 130 in 2001.
As I mentioned earlier, since the technology was not mature, in July 2000, the Safety Board issued recommendations aimed at changing air traffic control procedures and phraseology. Three of those recommendations were initially rejected by the FAA, and none have been implemented. Technological advances may help accomplish some of the FAA's goals, but there is no single solution that encompasses all situations. Awareness and education are important, but in a system as complex as airport traffic control, human mistakes are unavoidable. That is why many of the Board's recommendations over the years have focused on building in essential redundancies and avoiding the use of procedures that leave the ATC system vulnerable to inevitable lapses in human performance.
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In June 2000, the FAA held a Runway Incursion Summit at which 10 recommendations were adopted. The criteria for the development and adoption of the recommendations were that they have the greatest impact on the reduction of runway incursions, and that they be able to be completed by December 2000. The status of the recommendations adopted and their subject matters are provided in Attachment A.
Although none of the recommendations were completed within the planned timeframe, we urge the FAA to continue to explore methods to make certain that the air traffic environment is robust and able to minimize the impact of human mistakes before they result in an accident or incident.
The Committee also asked that the Board discuss anti-blocking radios. Clear and complete radio communications are necessary for adequate separation of aircraft and to ensure that aircraft are receiving and following ATC guidance. A known hazard to effective communications is incomplete, partial, or blocked radio communications when two persons inadvertently talk oil the frequency at the same time or in the event of a stuck microphone key.
Although the Safety Board has not investigated a major domestic accident in which blocked or ''stepped-on'' communications was a factor, we have participated in the investigations of two foreign accidents where blocked communications was a factor. Those accidents were the 1976 collision of two Boeing 747s at Tenerife, and the 1989 controlled flight into terrain of a Boeing 707 in the Azores. We believe reports of blocked communications from air traffic controllers and pilots indicate that the potential safety implications are real and need to be addressed.
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On July 20, 1993, the FAA issued a Technical Standard Order (TSO), TSOCI28, for ''Devices that Prevent Blocked Channels Used in Two-way Radio Communications Due to Unintentional Transmissions,'' and on April 11, 1994, issued TSOC122 for ''Devices the Prevent Blocked Channels Used in Two-way Radio Communications Due to Simultaneous Transmissions.'' Compliance with these two TSOs, however, was voluntary and the aviation community did not respond.
The Safety Board staff has been informed that the FAA is considering publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking that would establish the requirements for anti-blocking technology. This effort appears to be on hold pending sufficient staff resources and the completion of other higher priority projects.
Mr. Chairman, that completes my testimony. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have.
Attachment ATen Recommendations From the Federal Aviation Administration Runway Incursion Summit
Enhanced Operational Tower Controller Trainingscheduled for completion during the first quarter of FY 02;
Foreign Air Carrier Pilot Training, Education, and Awarenessscheduled for completion by the end of the 4th quarter of FY 01;
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Advisory Circular for Airport Surface Operationsunder final review (was supposed to be completed last month);
Airport Markings(the painting of wide hold short lines)has not been accomplished at most airports;
Education, Training and Awareness for Pilots, Controllers, and Vehicle Operatorsexpected to be completed the end of this month;
Memory Enhancement Techniques for Tower Controllersexpected to be completed by the 4th quarter of FY 01;
Pilot/Controller Communications Phraseology Reviewexpected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of FY 02;
Improved Pilot Evaluation and Testingexpected to be completed by the end of this month;
Air Traffic Teamwork Enhancement Training for Tower Controllerscompleted in May 2001; and
Prepared Statement of John Carr
Good afternoon Chairman Mica, Congressman Lipinski, and members of the Subcommittee. I want to thank you for this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee to discuss the prevention of runway accidents. I am John Carr, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
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NATCA is the exclusive representative of over 15,000 air traffic controllers serving the FAA, Department of Defense and private sector. In addition, NATCA represents approximately 1,200 FAA engineers, over 600 traffic management coordinators, automation specialists, regional personnel from FAA's logistics, budget, finance and computer specialist divisions, and agency occupational health specialists, nurses and medical program specialists.
Today's airport environment has become increasingly complex for pilots and air traffic controllers. Over the past 5 years, air traffic has increased by 27 percent to 655 million commercial passengers annually. The number of passengers is expected to exceed I billion annually by 2010. Increased levels of air traffic place more demands on air traffic controllers and pilots. As capacity and demand continue to grow, so does the number of aircraft, vehicles and people on runways.
Enhancing runway safety and reducing the number of runway incursions and surface accidents is a top priority for NATCA, the FAA, the pilots and the aviation community. According to the FAA, there were 431 runway incursions in 2000, compared with 321 in 1999. However, a recent FAA report notes that most of this increase consisted of 1 incursions that were minor in severity. In fact, 81 percent of the runway incursions evaluated over the past four years were minor in severity.
The FAA defines a runway incursion as ''any occurrence at an airport involving an aircraft, vehicle, person or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of separation with an aircraft taking off, intending to take off, landing, or intending to land.'' There are three types of runway incursions: pilot deviations; operational errors or operational deviations; and vehicle/pedestrian deviations. Historically, data clearly shows that runway incursions generally occur at complex, high volume airports having parallel or intersecting runways, multiple taxiway/runway intersections, complex taxi patterns, or an operational need for traffic to cross active runways. This data also indicates that past accidents have tended to occur at airports at night or when visibility is impaired.
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In 1999, the FAA established the Runway Safety Program (RSP) which has two basic elements: heightened awareness through anti-incursion campaigns, meetings and information resources; and technological solutions such as the low-cost Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDEX) and Airport Movement Area Safety Systems (AMASS).
Radar systems are the best primary sensors for broad surface surveillance however, they have inherent limitations and depending on the airport, some site-specific problems such as structures which create visual and radar ''blind spots.''
The Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) is a complex hardware and software system that combines ground and airspace radar with prediction software. The software weighs vehicle positions, velocities and accelerations to forecast potential collisions. These forecasts rely on primary radar information from the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE3) and secondary radar from the Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR9).
The AMASS program generates an audio and computer screen alert to air traffic controllers of surface situations that could result in an accident. Originally designed as a runway incursion prevention tool, the system was unable to meet the operational requirements and expectations placed upon it. AMASS is now being deployed as a collision avoidance tool. By focusing on potential collisions, we are able to eliminate excessive false alerts that cause unnecessary and expensive missed approaches that reduce system capacity.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Development of AMASS encountered a number problems including cost overruns and schedule delays. In October 1998, the FAA and NATCA established a national workgroup to identify and resolve issues relating to AMASS. Among other things, the workgroup was charged with defining the operational purpose and use of AMASS, identifying the minimum set of capabilities required for initial deployment, evaluating and resolving existing computer-human interface problems, developing national procedures for AMASS use, validating operational suitability and recommending a implementation strategy. As a result, the AMASS program has been on target with respect to the revised schedule and budget since 1999.
One of the major concerns with AMASS was the issuance of false alerts that do not represent the actual airport situation and has been a concern for controllers. These alerts generally result from equipment performance issues or physical obstructions such as snow banks, or buildings that interfere with the radar. As a result, AMASS was scaled back to focus only on active runways and not the entire airport. The ASDE3 radar still tracks all vehicles on the airport surface, but the prediction software only considers active runways and intersecting taxiways.
AMASS provides air traffic controllers with a useful and reliable warning system. A standard set of parameters was installed for AMASS that notifies controllers by utilizing four core alerts: an arriving aircraft to an occupied runway; an arriving aircraft to a closed runway, a landing aircraft to an occupied runway, and a departing aircraft on a occupied runway.
AMASS is currently fully operational in San Francisco International Airport and Detroit. The system is scheduled to be deployed to an additional 32 airports that have the ASDE3 by November 2002. There are no plans to install AMASS beyond these sites. However, the basic safety logic will be incorporated in to future ground radar systems such as Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDEX).
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The ASDEX is similar to ASDE3 ground surveillance radar. It is a new surveillance system being developed for use at mid-sized airports when low visibility poses a threat to safe and efficient operations. The ASDEX, which is scheduled to be installed at 25 airports, is designed to give air traffic controllers information about the location of aircraft and vehicles at night and in inclement weather when visibility is limited. ASDEX will use Airport Target Identification System (ATIDS) to provide data tags on arriving and departing aircraft as well as cooperating vehicles. Future system enhancements will incorporate safety logic similar to AMASS for collision prevention, and will eventually allow the system to accept input from ASDE3/AMASS to allow common functionality.
While the cornerstone of the FAA's Runways Safety Program is AMASS, there are a number of other ongoing technological projects. These include Automated Dependent Surveillance Broadcast System (ADS-B), Automated Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS), automatic lighting initiative, Multi-Lateration, Acoustic sensors, microwave and motion sensors, Inductive Loop Technology, and Card Reader and Scanner Technology. NATCA has representatives working with the FAA to move these technologies into the workplace as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. While the need for technology can not be overstated, the need for more concrete to meet the increased traffic must be addressed immediately.
NATCA is working closely with the FAA and other stakeholders in aggressively pursuing numerous non-technological solutions to runway incursions and surface incidents. These efforts included developing new procedures and heightening the awareness of pilots, controllers, airport vehicle operators through education and training. Runway incursions are generally the result of human error resulting from confusion, communication or visibility problems.
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On October 31, 2000, NATCA and the FAA signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Runway Safety Program creating a NATCA national runway safety liaison position and establishing workgroups to address the FAA's ''Ten Year Term Initiatives for Reducing Runway Incursions.'' Among these initiatives are increased controller training, pilot education, better runway marking, English language proficiency, memory enhancement techniques for controllers, and a review of pilot-controller phraseology.
NATCA also participates on Runway Incursion Action Teams (RIAT). These teams consist of FAA and other industry experts who meet at airports that are experiencing a high number of runway incursions and surface incidents. The RIAT teams conduct an on-site evaluation, and the local FAA and airport team meets monthly until the airport incursion rate is reduced.
In addition, NATCA is actively involved in the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) Runway Incursion Joint Safety Team to process and analyze data to recommend safety enhancing intervention strategies.
ANTI-BLOCKING RADIO TECHNOLOGY
NATCA shares the industry concerns associated with frequent congestion, however, we are not aware of any FAA project to implement anti-blocking radio technology. NATCA is actively supporting technology to help alleviate problems associated with frequency congestion such as Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC). This is a digital message system that automatically exchanges information between controllers and pilots. The basic concept involves developing preformatted text messages that can be quickly exchanged between controllers and pilots to direct normal activities such as altitude changes and frequency changes. By clicking a few buttons, a controller sends instructions that appear on a screen in the cockpit. Technology such as CPDLC would significantly reduce the number of transmissions, thereby reducing the likelihood that a transmission is blocked. In addition to alleviating frequency congestion, written instructions would reduce misunderstandings common in radio talk.
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NATCA has a longstanding interest in preventing runway incursions and other surface incidents. Safetywhether on the ground or in flightis of paramount concern to NATCA. We are committed to working with the FAA, pilots, airport designers and operators and other stakeholders in addressing runway incursions.
Prepared Statement by Congressman Jerry F. Costello
Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling today's hearing on runway incursions and anti-blocking radio technology. I would like to welcome today's witnesses.
The number of runway incursions has increased each year since 1994. Less than six weeks ago at National Airport, a US Airways jetliner nearly collided with a private twin-engine plane, and there have been at least three other near collisions involving commercial aircraft. So far in 2001, there have been 188 incursions nationwide. The NTSB believes that runway incursions are one of the most significant hazards in aviation today.
Last week, the FAA released Runway Incursion Risk Categories, which analyzed all runway incursions from 19972000 and grouped the incursions into four groups, depending on risk. The most severe are Category A; the least severe Category D. Categories A & B are considered serious incursions.
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The cause of incursions have been broken down into three groups: Operational Errors (ATC) Pilot Deviations and Vehicle/Pedestrian Deviations. It is interesting to note that while most incursions are caused by Pilot Deviations, the FAA has focused much of its efforts of developing technology to minimize Operational Errors.
The FAA has done this through development of the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) and the Air Surface Detection EquipmentModel 3 (ASDE3). However, much like STARS, ANMSS has been delayed and is over budget. In addition, the final product, which will be installed in 32 airports around the country, has not achieved much of the capacity that was originally intended. Nonetheless, this technology will prevent some runway incursions.
I was surprised to learn that pilots still navigate around airports using paper maps. You would think that in this digital age airplanes could be equipped with computerized maps of the airports. It is my understanding the FAA is considering publishing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding moving map displays in cockpits, which seems to be a good idea.
While the FAA has done a good job of gathering information regarding runway incursions, clearly more needs to be done to prevent runway incursions. I look forward to today's hearing as we explore some of these options.
Prepared Statement of William Davis
Chairman Mica, Congressman Lipinski, Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to appear before you today on the important issue of runway incursions and how the risk they pose can be reduced. This issue has been of paramount importance to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for several years. Administrator Garvey has been committed to better understanding why incursions occur in order to be more effective in determining how their risk can be reduced. One of our great frustrations is that the number of reported runway incursions has increased steadily over the past four years, despite increased agency attention and dedicated efforts aimed at their reduction.
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Last year, we held an industry summit to focus on the issue of runway incursions and how, as an industry, we could reduce the risk of increasing incursions. Since that time, FAA has redoubled its efforts to find ways to understand why runway incursions occur in order to identify the solutions needed to reduce their frequency and severity. Since the summit, we issued the National Blueprint for Runway Safety, established resources dedicated to runway safety that cross the lines of business, and created a focal point for all runway safety initiatives. My office was created in April of this year as a result of FAA's commitment in this area. The mission of the office is to decrease the number and potential consequences of runway incursions.
As I have noted, an essential component to reducing the risk posed by runway incursions is understanding why they occur, not only what happened. For example, when FAA first began focusing on how to reduce runway incursions more than a decade ago, it was assumed that the problem stemmed from air traffic control operational errors. The initial attempts to reduce runway incursions, therefore, focused on providing controllers with additional tools to assist them in improving airport surface safety, such as the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) and Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE), which I will discuss in a moment. Since that time, we have come to understand that, while air traffic operational errors exist and must be addressed, the majority of errors involve pilots, airport vehicle operators and pedestrians. However, knowing who is involved in runway incursions did not explain why the incursions occurred. Because the risk of incursions was not completely understood, the solution set being worked on, with a primary focus on technology, was incomplete.
We are now looking at the problem from a different perspective. In addition to technology, the solution set now includes initiatives in training, communications, procedures, airport signs/marks/lighting, data collection, and the establishment of metrics. We recognize that site specific solutions will have to be developed and implemented. A successful outcome demands that we work through these initiatives in coordination with the aviation community. We are doing this through participation in the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), of which I am a co-chair, and the Runway Incursion Joint Safety Implementation Team (JSIT). Forming liaisons with aviation groups will help enhance understanding, increase awareness, and improve perspective.
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In order to understand why runway incursions occur and how they differ in severity, my office set about analyzing every single reported runway incursion that occurred from 1997 through 2000a total of 1,369 incursions. The results of this analysis were issued last week in the form of the ''FAA Runway Safety Report.'' The report provides a more complete picture of the risk posed by runway incursions. In addition, the report will be used to guide efforts aimed at reducing the number, rate, and severity of runway incursions, thus reducing the risk to the public. For the first time, we have attempted to evaluate the severity, or potential consequence of each runway incursion. We have identified and defined four categories of runway incursion that we depict as A through D. The factors that were considered in determining into which category each incursion should be placed, included the speed of the aircraft/vehicle, the proximity of the vehicles involved, the environmental conditions, the need for evasive action, and the available reaction time. Category D incursions are those that resulted in little or no chance of collision, but meet the technical definition of an incursion. Category A incursions, by comparison, are those in which the factors considered indicate an imminent threat to maintaining separation on runways. For purposes of our analysis, the three accidents that occurred during this four year period were included as Category A incidents.
Without belittling the problem of incursions, and for purposes of this discussion, the categorizing of runway incursions in this manner permits us to differentiate between ''minor'' incursions (Category C and D incidents) and ''major'' incursions (Category A and B incidents). The report breaks down the information compiled on the incursions in a number of ways. I would like to take a moment to share some of our findings. For example, the good news is that approximately 80% of runway incursions are ''minor'' incidents. The bad news is that this category of incidents has suffered unacceptable increases during the four-year period we analyzed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the focus that has been placed on the issue of runway incursions has resulted in more minor incursions being reported than might otherwise have been the case. If this is true, we welcome the full reporting of this information so that we more fully understand the problem and how to approach it. However, the data analyzed do not provide us with the evidence to positively determine why minor incursions increased.
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''Major'' incidents represent approximately 20% of runway incursions, and they have remained constant at approximately 65 incidents per year over the four years studied. The fact that we have been unable, despite the ongoing efforts I have described, to reduce the number of major incidents that occur each year is very disturbing. Based on our analysis, my office has developed a dual approach to reducing the risk posed by the occurrence of runway incursions. We have concluded that the strategy we use to reduce the number and severity of the major incidents should be different from how we reduce the number and severity of minor incidents. Higher density airports require more technological solutions, whereas lower density airports benefit from more and better communication, education, and training.
Another interesting piece of information that the report provides is that the volume of traffic at an airport, based on air traffic operations, does not necessarily translate into a corresponding number of runway incursions. It appears that a combination of air traffic volume and airport complexity play a role in the number of incursions at a given airport. Consequently, every airport is unique, and so are the challenges it faces. During the period of the study, the nation's 32 busiest airports (representing 24% of all take offs and landings) accounted for 37% of major runway incursions and 28% of minor runway incursions. When severity is considered, the average rate of major runway incursions is approximately twice as high at the 32 busiest airports compared with the towered airports in the remainder of the study.
Understanding both the frequency and severity of runway incursions will help guide us in implementing mitigation strategies that include technology, procedures, training, and awareness. Again, our dual approach will enable us to tailor solutions to specific situations for a more effective result. In addition to training, education and awareness efforts, we must also deploy the technological aids we began developing in the 1980s and 1990s, and expand upon them. The development of Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) to aid in increasing controller awareness of surface traffic evolved into the development of algorithms to automate surface conflict detection. This effort, known as the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS), suffered from numerous developmental challenges. One such challenge was the resolution of human factors concerns that adversely impacted system deployment. Perhaps the most challenging issue was striking the appropriate balance between alerting controllers in advance of a potential conflict while not affecting air traffic operations with false and nuisance alerts. Initially, AMASS was intended to predict runway incursions before they occurred. This approach proved impractical because it was impossible to predict what any individual, pilot, pedestrian, or motor vehicle operator might do at the last moment in violation of air traffic direction. The result was an unacceptable level of false and nuisance alerts, making it impractical for controllers to deal effectively with each alert.
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Since 1996, significant system software modifications have been made so that AMASS achieves the extremely low false alert rate required for commissioning. In addition, a number of human factors issues were addressed leading to user acceptance. This resulted in the program being re-baselined in 1999. Since 1999, the program has been on schedule and within budget. Most recently, AMASS was just commissioned at the first two sites, San Francisco and Detroit, and the program office is executing an aggressive schedule to have all systems commissioned by the end of 2002.
In addition to AMASS, a new surface surveillance system is being developed called ASDEX. This surveillance system, which we intend to deploy at the 25 next busiest airports, provides technical enhancements over the earlier generation of surface surveillance systems. ASDEX will provide more complete airport surface surveillance including target identification and the inherent capability to process Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADSB) data from equipped aircraft. The system will become the surveillance backbone to transition to ADSB capability to the National Airspace System (NAS) as well as providing surveillance data to airport operators, airline operation centers and aircraft flight displays. Providing traffic information to aircraft flight displays is expected to significantly reduce the number and severity of runway incursions. The potential for the ASDEA components to be reconfigured for airport expansion and insertion of new technology with minimal service disruption represents an adaptive solution that addresses the dynamic needs of the NAS and the many customers it serves.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, I want you to know that I understand the significance of the problem of runway incursions. I accepted this position because I want to make a difference in an area where a difference needs to be made. We are working with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Office of the Inspector General, and the aviation community to combine our efforts to achieve the greatest possible improvement in safety on the ground at our nation's airports. I look forward to sharing our progress with this Committee as we continue to address our challenges in the area of runway incursions.
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Mr. Chairman, I will be pleased to answer any questions at this time.
Prepared Statement of Congressman William O. Lipinski
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today on runway incursions. The steady increase of runway incursions since 1994 has long been a concern of this Subcommittee. We, like the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry, are frustrated that, despite increased efforts to reduce the rate and risk of runway incursions, a runway incursion occurs close to a once a day in this country.
Runway incursions are a significant safety issue and are the focus of increased attention. Since 1998, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General has issued three reports on runway incursions, including the report that is being released today. The National Transportation Safety Board has issued over 100 safety recommendations regarding runway incursion issues and, in testimony today, highlights six recent recommendations the Board believes have the most potential to improve safety, save lives, and reduce accidents and injuries. The Federal Aviation Administration has had three runway incursion action plans since 1991 that included over 260 actions to reduce runway incursions. In October 2000, FAA also released a ''Blueprint'' for reducing runway incursions that included approximately 50 recommended initiatives that are currently being implemented.
The aviation industry has also focused increased attention on runway incursions. NATCA has established workgroups with the FAA to address and implement the FAA's top ten near term initiatives for reducing runway incursions. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has established education programs to increase the awareness of pilots. The AirLine Pilots Association outlines seven safety enhancements that the pilots believe have the greatest potential for eliminating runway incursions systematically. The Air Transport Association today recommends five actions to reduce runway incursions.
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Obviously, given the great number of recommendations,, initiatives, and action plans already proffered by the NTSB, the DOT IG, the FAA, and the aviation industry, there is no simple solution to reducing the rate and risk of runway incursions. Like the issue of delays and congestion in our national aviation system, there is no ''silver bullet'' that will address all of the complex causes of this problem. However, common sense dictates that the most effective solutions, recommendations, initiatives, etc. would address the most common causes of runway incursions.
Unfortunately, the root causes of runway incursions are not fully explored. Currently, the reporting system merely focuses on who was at faultthe pilot, controller, or a vehicle/pedestrian. The types of runway incursionspilot deviations, operational errors, and vehicle/pedestrian deviationsdo not provide any insight into why runway incursions occurred. In fact, one of the conclusions of last week's FAA Runway Safety Report states that ''FAA runway incursion data do not consistently show the level of detail necessary to reliably determine the root causes of runway incursions.''
If there were a better understanding of the root causes of runway incursions, there would be a better understanding of the most effective solutions. A close examination of the root causes of runway incursions at a particular airport may show, for example, that reconfiguration of a complex airfield would be more effective than certain technology at that airport.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the recommendations and initiatives they advocate for reducing runway incursions. However, I also look forward to working with the representatives of the aviation industry here today on better identifying the root causes of runway incursions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for once again focusing the Subcommittee's attention on this important safety issue. I yield back the balance of my time.
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Prepared Statement of the Honorable James L. Oberstar
Thank you, Chairman Mica and Congressman Lipinski, for calling this hearing today on runway incursions. This is a critical safety issue that must receive the highest level of attention.
In November 1997, this subcommittee held a hearing on the number and upward trend of runway incursions, which at that time the subcommittee found to be unacceptable. At that hearing, I recommended that the FAA call a high-level, nationwide conference on runway incursions, as it had done on other safety issues. I thought that the FAA should bring together the pilot and controller communities, the NTSB, equipment manufacturers, and airport operators to deal with these issues in a concentrated, determined and effective manner. While the FAA did not act as expeditiously as they should have, they did hold a National Runway Incursions Summit in the summer of 2000.
Between the years 1993 and 2000, the numbers of runway incursions has increased significantly from 186 to 431. This is not just the result of an overall increase in aviation activity. The rate of incursions per airport operations is also increasing, from .30 in 1993 to .64 in 2000. These incursions are grouped into three categories: operational errors (by the controller), pilot deviations, and vehicle/pedestrian deviations.
Runway incursions are a difficult problem to solve because there is no single cause to target. No silver bullet will eliminate runway incursions. The one common thread among runway incursions is that they are all the end product of human error. People, even when superbly trained and motivated, remain vulnerable to error, especially when confronted with unexpected circumstances. Therefore, to address runway incursions, we must address both human factors, as well as system complexities.
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This is a daunting task given the number of people and systems involved both directly and indirectly with runway safety. In the United States alone there are more than 600,000 certified pilots, 8,000 airport tower controllers staffing more than 460 towered airports, and literally hundreds of thousands of airport personnel.
As I said before, there is no silver bullet to eliminate runway incursions. Instead we must take a multi-faceted approach to aid the operators in the NAS to decrease both the frequency of human error and the severity of the consequences of those errors. A few of the areas that need to be addressed are:
Training for controllers, pilots and airport vehicle operators to enhance their knowledge, skills, and overall performance. (e.g. a visual tower simulator for use in tower controller training);
Technology to augment and amplify the skills of both the controllers and the pilots. (e.g. AMASS for the controllers and a moving map display for pilots);
Airport Signs/Markings/Lighting must be improved to increase visibility and enhance the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in the surface environment;
Procedures designed to enhance the safety of surface operations;
Communications improvements to simplify and standardize communications between airport surface operators and controllers;
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Airport designs must be reviewed and revised to create a safer surface environment.
We must understand that not one of these solutions alone will eliminate runway incursions. It is very tempting to believe that the newest technology will be the ultimate solution, but this is not true, as we have seen with the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS). AMASS was originally envisioned to be a comprehensive runway incursion prevention technology. Now that AMASS is 6 years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget, we know that AMASS will not live up to those expectations. Due to human factors and technological limitations, AMASS will only provide 4 alerts to the controllers: an arriving aircraft to an occupied runway, an arriving aircraft to a closed runway, a landing aircraft to an occupied runway, and a departing aircraft on an occupied runway. AMASS has been reconfigured to NOT alert controllers of potential ''side-impact'' collisions from intersecting taxiways; early tests of the system resulted in high numbers of nuisance alerts, which are distracting to controllers. While the alerts activated in AMASS will improve the safety of surface operations, we must not overestimate the benefits of technology.
The FAA released a report last week (June 20, 2001) that categorized all the runway incursions that occurred between 1997 and 2000 by severity. This report showed that the most severe runway incursions (those with significant potential for collision) have remained constant, while the more minor runway incursions (those with little to no chance of a collision) have increased significantly. This data does not mean we can decrease our vigilance in addressing the problem of runway incursions, but it does help us better understand the problem.
The airport surface environment is inherently safeproven by the exceptional safety record of civil aviation. However, with a 28% increase in total airport operations expected over the next 10 years, statistics predict that airport surface safety must be improved. We need to do better merely to retain the status quo. We must do much better if we are to reverse the recent upward trend in runway incursions.
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I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses.
Prepared Statement of Jack Ryan
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lipinsky, Mr. Oberstar, and members of the Subcommittee. The subject of runway incursions is receiving greatly increased and well-deserved attention throughout the aviation community. The steady increase in the volume and density of air traffic has added new urgency to engaging and resolving the important issues that lead to runway incursions.
Efforts should focus on decreasing both the frequency of runway incursions and the severity of those incursions when they do occur. As you know, runway incursion is defined as any occurrence on an airport runway involving an aircraft, vehicle, person, or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of required separation with an aircraft taking off, intending to take off, landing, or intending to land.
In many instances, the potential for an actual collision is low. In over three-quarters of the instances of reported runway incursions, there was either little or no chance of collision or there was sufficient time and distance to avoid one. Nevertheless, the fact that an error or pilot deviation caused an incursion to take place at all is cause for serious concern. The moving variables involved could have easily transformed a low-risk, low-severity event into a high-risk, high-severity event or even an accident. The fact that reported runway incursions are increasing as traffic is increasing indicates a significant increase in accident risk that demands immediate and effective attention and action.
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The problem must be worked from both the frequency and severity angles. Reducing the frequency of runway incursions is dependent upon developing and implementing intervention strategies to reduce risk. These strategies cover a broad spectrum of specific actions and would include everything from more conspicuous signage and lighting to improved awareness and training for all personnel in every aspect of airport operations.
Reducing the severity of runway incursions involves the implementation of risk reduction strategies to decrease the consequences of system failures or human errors. Such strategies could include moving hold lines back further from active runways and possibly taxiinto-position and hold clearances could be further restricted and reduced as well. With such measures, incursions could occur, but the risk of collision or other severe consequences would be greatly reduced.
Improved technology also offers some unique opportunities to reduce both the frequency and severity of runway incursions. After a very long and tortured but successful test program, FAA has approved full-time Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) operations for San Francisco and Detroit. Last Thursday, I visited Detroit Metro tower to see the newly-commissioned AMASS system. The system combines predictive software with radar data to provide air traffic controllers with warnings of impending surface collisions. Audio warnings and screen alerts signal controllers when an aircraft or vehicle intrudes on an active runway.
Mr. Chairman, I was quite impressed with the Detroit operation and the dedication of the FAA management, technicians, and controllers in bringing this system to full readiness. I also saw the prototype of the Sensis Company's multilateration system that is being funded by NASA to develop surface management operations. This is the same system that FAA has selected for its ASDE X program to be deployed at 25 locations. This is a hybrid system composed of a surface detection radar and a multilateration capability. The important difference between the radar and the multilat sensor is that multilat can provide aircraft ID and tags on the controller's display because it is detecting each aircraft's unique transponder code. The AMASS system will be operational at 32 other airports by November 2002. 1 am convinced that AMASS would have prevented the incursion that occurred at Reagan National Airport on May 14th, if it had been operational.
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Another technology using ADSB ''Moving Map Displays'' are also being evaluated for installation in aircraft. This technology provides pilots with instantaneous and accurate position fixes on their location and the locations of other aircraft and vehicles so equipped on the airport movement area, even at night and during periods of reduced visibility due to inclement weather. All of this information would of course be available to Air Traffic Control. With the appropriate software, it will be the closest technology that may meet NTSB's ''most wanted recommendation.'' This system is being evaluated as part of the Safe Flight 21 program in the Ohio Valley and should receive everyone's support and expedition.
Although runway incursions are increasing, every segment of the aviation community is aggressively working the problem and seeking solutions to decrease both the frequency and severity of runway incursions. Given the trends, the data shows that 60 percent of the incursions that occurred from 1997 through 2000 involved general aviation pilots. Moreover, the data indicates that the majority of the incursions were the direct result of pilot deviations. The report goes on to state that ''there has been a steady rise in runway incursions involving two general aviation operations from 1997 through 2000.'' This is where FAA must focus their attention. Irrespective of the types of aircraft, causes, or other factors, however, there are clearly some significant training issues, which are being addressed by several groups and by the airline industry itself.
The Air Transport Association and its member airlines are active participants in the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) and provide personnel to work on CAST Joint Safety Analysis Teams (JSATs) and Joint Safety Implementation Teams (JSITs).
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC CAST has identified runway incursions as a high priority area of endeavor to reduce risk and decrease accidents. The Runway Incursion JSAT and JSIT have completed their initial tasks and produced plans and detailed implementation strategies that will produce high-leverage payoffs, metrics for evaluating interventions, and summaries of methodologies used and lessons learned.
As an industry, we have clearly defined the issue and scoped the problem. We have made significant progress, but there is much yet to be done.
Human error and how to reduce it constitutes the single greatest opportunity for mitigating risk and decreasing both the frequency and severity of runway incursions at both towered and non-towered airports. Bearing down on the human error issue across a broad front to include improved procedures, better training, and modem technology will improve runway safety by reducing the frequency of runway incursions and mitigating the impact of human errors in those that do occur and will thus reduce the severity as well.
Mr. Chairman, in closing I recommend the following actions be taken to reduce runway incursions:
1. The recent FAA runway safety report was a good start in analyzing the severity of runway incursions. The next step is for the industry to analyze why and what circumstances existed to cause an incursion to take place and focus on fixing the causes.
2. Since the number of pilot deviations in 1999 and 2000 is almost twice the number of operational errors in the two most severe categories, the FAA must concentrate on pilot training and human factors to deal with these incursions.
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3. Support FAA's efforts to field AMASS at the remaining 32 locations and to test and field an ADS-B solution to the runway incursion problem.
4. FAA should extend the implementation of multilateration to the 34 original ASDE 3 locations.
5. Discontinue FAA's current policy of reducing supervisors to achieve a supervisor-to-controller ratio of 101. Another set of highly experienced eyes has always been essential to a safe system.
Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to answer any questions.
Prepared Statement of Captain Duane E. Woerth
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am Captain Duane E. Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). ALPA represents the professional interests of more than 66,000 pilots who fly for 47 airlines in the United States and Canada. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to address the important issue of runway incursions and the technological improvements that can be made to reduce their impact on air safety.
As you requested in your letter of invitation, I'll be addressing two safety enhancements: the use of anti-blocking radio technology both in the cockpit and the control tower, and the deployment of the Airport Movement Area Safety System, commonly referred to as AMASS. ALPA views both of these technologies as part of an overall systems approach to lowering the risk of fatalities due to runway incursions. In addition, I'll identify the seven safety enhancements that constitute a systems approach, which ALPA believes has the greatest potential for eliminating runway incursion accidents.
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The worst accident in aviation history occurred in 1977 at Tenerife. 583 people lost their lives when two 747's collided on a runway during limited visibility. A blocked radio transmission caused one crew to mistakenly conclude that they were cleared for takeoff while the other 747 was still on the runway. It has been more than 20 years since Tenerife and there has been little progress toward installing anti-blocking technology to address the risk of blocked radio transmissions. Meanwhile air traffic has greatly increased.
As any airline pilot can verify, stepped on and blocked radio transmissions are encountered frequently both enroute and in terminal areas. Anti-blocking technology is part of the specifications for the Next Generation Communications (NEXCOM) plan. But that plan is still on the drawing board and at least a decade away from full implementation. ALPA believes that adding anti-blocking technology to existing radios will have a beneficial effect on the efficiency of pilot/controller communications, with a parallel effect on increased capacity at our nation's airport.
Most importantly, it will allow pilots and air traffic controllers to work together to make the system safer by mitigating the risk of blocked communications in this increasingly congested ATC environment.
There is a significant and growing risk of fatal runway incursions at our nation's airports. Increased congestion at the 31 busiest airports, which handle more than 75% of the nation's traffic, continues to heighten that risk. The FAA's Runway Safety Program website shows the rate of runway incursions more than doubling between 1988 and the year 2000 from .30 to .64 runway incursions per 100,000 flights. The FAA's ''Operational Evolution Plan'' predicts a further 30% increase in operations by the year 2010. Simply put, as the amount of traffic increases, the risk of blocked radio transmissions continues to grow, contributing to a heightened risk of fatal runway incursions. Mr. Chairman, since anti-blocking technology has been available and affordable since the Tenerife accident, one must ask: Why have we not yet employed it in our cockpits and air traffic control facilities?
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Another important technology associated with reducing the risk of fatal runway incursions is the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS). The FAA has just recently made an in-service decision to commission AMASS systems at San Francisco and Detroit, and to deploy AMASS to a total of 34 operational sites at some of our nation's busiest airports. AMASS is the first major runway incursion prevention technology the FAA has deployed.
ALPA applauds the FAA decision to deploy AMASS and to complete its installation by November 2002. We feel AMASS can have an important risk reduction benefit, in the near term, at some of our busiest airports where the risk of fatal runway incursions is the greatest. We have been assured that software problems that generated numerous ''false positives'' during the early testing phases have been corrected, and we look forward to the risk reduction benefits associated with full deployment of the system.
It is important to note, however, that even full implementation of these two technologies will not adequately mitigate the growing risk of fatal runway incursions. Anti-blocking radios and AMASS are but two of a myriad of needed runway incursion safety enhancements. In order to properly address the growing problem of runway incursions, ALPA supports the fielding of seven categories of safety enhancements. They are:
1. The installation of GPS-driven moving map displays in the cockpit to enhance pilot situation awareness;
2. The use of improved Standard Operating Procedures for ground operations across the industrycurrent standardization is woefully inadequate;
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3. Improved pilot training, including action by the FAA to increase the significance of ground operations performance on all flight training;
4. Improved air traffic control procedures;
5. Improved training for air traffic controllers, particularly the use of highfidelity visual tower simulators, which are similar in quality to aircraft simulators routinely used for pilot training;
6. Improved situational awareness technology for air traffic controllers, including ASDEX and the emerging capabilities demonstrated in the FAA's Safe Flight 21 Program;
7. Visual aids enhancement and automation technology for airports, including improved all-weather conspicuity signs, visual runway occupancy for flight crews on final approach, and automated ''Smart Lighting'' to indicate taxi routes.
A more detailed explanation of these recommendations is contained in the paper attached to my testimony, entitled ''A Systems Approach to Solving Runway Incursion.''
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today, and would be happy to answer any questions you and the members of the subcommittee may have.
AttachmentA Systems Approach to Solving Runway Incursions
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Each of the common root causes linked to runway incursions for pilots, air traffic controllers and vehicles must be adequately mitigated to sufficiently address this growing problem. ALPA supports seven broad areas of concentration to reduce runway incursion accidents. The seven areas below contain the initiatives that ALPA believes are a priority and must be accomplished in concert with each other for maximum effectiveness. First, the installation of GPS-driven cockpit moving map displays to enhance pilot situation awareness. Second, the use of improved Standard Operating Procedures for ground operations across the industryCurrent standardization is woefully inadequate. Third, improvements to pilot training, including action by the FAA to increase the significance of ground operations performance on all flight training. Fourth, air traffic control procedures must be improved. Fifth, improved training for air traffic controllers, particularly the use of high-fidelity visual tower simulators, similar in quality to aircraft simulators used for pilot training. Sixth, improved situational awareness technology for air traffic control, including ASDEX and the emerging capabilities demonstrated in the FAA's Safe Flight 21 Program. Seventh, visual aids enhancement and automation technology for airports including improved all-weather conspicuity signs, visual runway occupancy for flight crews on final approach and automated ''Smart Lighting'' to indicate taxi routes.
GPS DRIVEN DISPLAYS IN AIRCRAFT AND AIRPORT VEHICLES
The purpose of this initiative is to reduce Runway Incursion incidents by improving pilot horizontal and vertical situational awareness through the use of cockpit displays. The displays should have airport surface moving maps, taxi route and clearance information (through the use of data link technology), runway occupancy and ground traffic collision alerting systems. To achieve this will require the continuing development and certification of cockpit display equipment and the formation of standards, guidelines and procedures for use of the equipment. Cockpit airport moving map display systems shall incorporate industry ''best practices'' for computer-human interface (CHI) design to enhance and support flight crew situational awareness. The project requirements are as follows:
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Promote installation of graphic cockpit displays (surface moving map) that depict the airport surface, cleared taxi routes and taxi clearance limits to all Part 121 operators. Apply data link technology to allow cockpit display to show ATC cleared routes and clearance limits. Systems must be developed for classic, standard and advanced aircraft.
Promote installation of graphic displays with traffic information and air/ground and ground/ground alerting systems to all Part 121 operators. Systems must be developed for classic, standard and advanced aircraft. ADSB and TISB are the enabling technologies for traffic information.
Promote parallel development and installation in ground vehicles.
Parallel development of lower cost systems for general aviation operators that encourage voluntary equipage.
As moving map display technology with the above functionality advances, the technology should be applied to development of heads-up display (HUD) systems (synthetic vision?).
Note.Certified cockpit display equipment with surface moving map functionality will be available in the near term. Operators should install equipment when it becomes available rather than waiting for the end state functionality described above. Formal studies have indicated that immediate safety enhancement will be realized with displays that have airport surface moving maps and own ship position. The additional functionality will provide even further safety enhancements.
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STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
Many runway incursions and other surface incidents can be linked to a lack of standardized pilot procedures to ensure safe ground operations. Although most airlines have detailed procedures for airborne operations, relatively few airlines have standard procedures for operating in the increasingly complex surface environment. This lack of standardization creates unnecessary risk. The purpose of this initiative is to reduce the risk of runway incursions and surface incidents by recommending that all FAR Part 121 operators and Part 135 operators: establish, document, train to, and follow standard operating procedures for ground operations. These operators should train to proficiency on their SOPs and ensure their use. These SOPs should be developed from a survey of industry ''best practices''. These ''best practices'' should also be adapted for use in singlepilot (Part 91) operations and recommended for use. Recommendations for ''best practices'' for ground vehicle operations in the aircraft movement area should also be developed and incorporated into training programs.
Develop policies, procedures, and implementation guidelines for Pilot Training programs for airport surface operations to prevent runway incursions. The outcome of this work will be:
Training and/or standardization programs emphasizing situational awareness, standard operating procedures, and pre-flight planning.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Emphasis on Cockpit Resource Management and command leadership training skills to address the dynamic operating environment faced by pilots.
Guidance for prioritization in a multi-tasking environment to emphasize situational awareness, ground operations, and use of all resources.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL PROCEDURES
The purposes of these initiatives are:
To review and develop national Air Traffic Control Procedures that will require tower controllers to maintain a high level of situational awareness.
To review the impact and recommend changes as necessary to ''Reduced Separation on Final (FAAH 7110.65 para. 553f)'' and ''Land and Hold Short Operations (LAHSO)'' as they pertain to surface incidents and runway incursions; and to review phraseology used for terminal operations, recommending changes to unnecessary or confusing phraseology.
To initiate rule-making to amend FAR 91.129 (i); and to require pilots to read back any clearance to enter a specific runway, hold short of a specific runway, or ''taxi into position and hold'' instructions.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TRAINING
The purpose of this initiative is to ensure thorough training of basic air traffic control skills, resource management skills, situational awareness, and teamwork, through the use of high-fidelity tower simulators, memory aids, On the Job Training (OJT), and Computer Based Instruction (CBI).
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SITUATIONAL AWARENESS TECHNOLOGY FOR ATC
The purpose of this initiative is to develop and implement technology tools including data link that will provide and/or enhance airport surface situational awareness to air traffic controllers. Examples of these technology tools include, but are not limited to, Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS), Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDEX), Automated Dependent SurveillanceBroadcast (ADSB), Next Generation Air-Ground Communications System (NEXCOM), Surface Movement Advisor (SMA), and Airport Target Identification System (ATIDS). The strategies for accomplishing this initiative include:
New technology tools will be developed by the FAA to enable enhanced surveillance, information, communication (including anti-blocking technologies), and conflict detection for ATC operations.
FAA and airport operators will provide airport surface surveillance equipment with conflict alerting capability at air traffic control towers.
Digital data link capability will be developed and implemented to enable automatic transmission of ATC instructions/information (between the ground & aircraft).
Situational Awareness Displays developed in support of the above listed strategies will incorporate industry best practices for computer-human interface (CHI) design to enhance and support ATC decision-making.
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCVISUAL AIDS ENHANCEMENT AND AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGYAIRPORTS
The purpose of this initiative is to develop and install airport visual aids, which provide clear guidance (taxi route, runway entrance & exit and construction area avoidance) for flight crews and other persons operating aircraft and vehicles on the movement area. It is intended that this initiative will provide unambiguous visual signals to convey runway occupancy clearances as well as to convey runway occupancy status to aircraft on final approach to a runway. Such visual aids are intended to prevent runway incursions and surface incidents as well as improve situational awareness. These systems are to be in accordance with appropriate aviation standards and visible under all meteorological conditions.