The National Transportation Safety Board wants more safety tech at airports

After several near collisions at US airports, the NTSB wants to install more technology to help prevent the issue.
Takeoff and landing planes at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Takeoff and landing planes at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) / Anadolu/GettyImages

Safety is always a big deal in traveling, especially lately thanks to several issues within the airline industry. In 2023, there was a near collision between two jets in Austin, Texas. There was also a situation at Reagan National Airport where two planes almost hit each other in May 2024. As these issues occur, the National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for more technology to prevent these close calls.

“This incident could have been catastrophic if not for the heroic actions of the FedEx crew,” said Jennifer Homendy, NTSB Chair in a board meeting while speaking about the 2023 incident.

 On February 4, 2023, there was fog and poor visibility at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. An air traffic controller cleared two flights to use the same runway at once. A FedEx cargo plane while a Southwest Airlines jet with 128 passengers on board was departing. The pilot of the FedEx plane noticed the lights and shadow of the Southwest plane, pulling back into the air to avoid the collision.

On May 29, 2024, another near collision occurred at DCA in Washington D.C. An American Airlines plane departing to Boston was preparing to take off when it was suddenly instructed to stop. The takeoff was aborted because another airplane was cleared to land on an intersecting airway. The FAA is investigating the incident.

The NTSB stated that there’s a shortage of air traffic controllers, leading to undesirable working conditions among the staff. Along with that, there’s an issue with a lack of technology within the airports. According to the NTSB, these technologies working in conjunction with the air traffic controllers can better prevent issues such as these. The FAA announced that surface detection systems would be installed at some airports, beginning in 2025.

According to the FAA, there were 23 serious runway issues in 2023, compared to 16 in 2022. Homendy mentioned that there were at least seven such incidents less than halfway into 2024, with several more under investigation.