The day after Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen announced he wants to hold a Safety Summit next month, CNN reported that there was a serious runway incursion involving a United Airlines 777 and Cessna Caravan at Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu on Jan. 23. The network reported the 777 crossed the runway where the Kamaka Air Caravan cargo plane was landing. The Caravan came to a stop before the crossing point of the heavy but they came within 1,170 feet of each other. It was the fourth serious incident reported since December. This month there have also been serious runway incidents at JFK and Austin. In December, an aircraft on initial climbout from Kahului Airport dropped about 1500 feet to less than 800 feet above the ocean before the crew recovered, pulling 2.7 G’s in the process.
In a memo to his senior management on Tuesday Nolen said he wants to bring together leaders from all corners of aviation to discuss what some have said are ominous signs the system is weakening. “A group of commercial and general aviation leaders, labor partners, and others will examine which mitigations are working and why others appear to be not as effective as they once were,” Nolen wrote. Nolen said he also wants to know if there have been any other close calls that haven’t been made public.
“We need to mine the data to see whether there are other incidents that resemble ones we have seen in recent weeks,” he said. “And we need to see if there are indicators of emerging trends so we can focus on resources to address now.” He also wants to look at the Air Traffic Organization with an eye to reinforcing “a collaborative, data-driven safety culture.” Nolen stressed the aviation system continues to be in a safe spell and he wants to keep that going. “Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions.”