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Controllers to Update House Aviation Subcommittee on Their Efforts to Prevent Runway Collisions - (6/26/2001)

CONTACT:  Doug Church, 202.220.9802, dchurch@natcadc.org 

WASHINGTON - The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which continues to devote much of its attention and resources to the critically important issue of runway safety, is testifying today before the House Aviation Subcommittee on the issue of preventing runway incursions. A runway incursion is any occurrence on a 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.

“Today’s airport environment has become increasingly complex for pilots and air traffic controllers,” NATCA President John Carr said. “Over the past five years, air traffic has increased by 27 percent to 655 million passengers per year. As demand continues to grow, so does the number of aircraft, vehicles and people on runways.”

NATCA is addressing runway safety in numerous ways, beginning with helping the Federal Aviation Administration effectively implement the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS), a software enhancement to the Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model 3 (ASDE-3) that provides controllers with aural and visual alerts to potential collisions on the runway. AMASS is fully operational in San Francisco and Detroit. The system is scheduled to be deployed to an additional 32 airports that have the ASDE-3 by November 2002.

Controller workgroups are also proactively engaged in three areas of concern:

· Training and procedures. The objective of this group is to reduce incursions by developing improved techniques to enhance focus during controller training on anticipated separation and prioritization of control actions.

· Phraseology. This group aims to improve communication by condensing, modifying or eliminating surface-related pilot/controller phraseology and associated procedures.

· Memory enhancement. This group derived from the original training initiative to focus on memory aids for controllers that enhance their abilities under adverse or unusual situations.

“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,” Carr stated.

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