US airports saw 19 almost catastrophic near-misses in 2023, highest since 2016

That number, the highest since 2016, comes as the FAA continues to struggle in its quest to hire more air traffic controllers.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
A new report has revealed that there were 19 separate occasions where planes nearly crashed into each other at airports in the United States during the first ten months of 2023.

That number, the highest since 2016, comes as the Federal Aviation Administration continues to struggle in its quest to hire more air traffic controllers.

According to data from the FAA reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, in many instances where planes came close to colliding, an aircraft or vehicle was entering an area it was not supposed to be in, forcing another to act quick to avoid an accident.

In one such case, a Hop-A-Jet plane crossed onto a runway without clearance at Boston Logan International, forcing an incoming JetBlue plane to have to circle around before finally getting the go-ahead to touch down.

At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a departing plane came within 170 feet of crashing into an emergency vehicle whose driver had decided to pass through the runway without authorization.

To try and improve the situation, the FAA has held runway safety meetings at a number of airports, and explored other options to help pilots such as more funding for better lighting on the tarmac.

As the WSJ reports, American Airlines' pilots union president Ed Sicher said in March that "every piece of the system is under stress."

While there has been a dramatic rise in flights taking off and landing in the US over the past decade, the number of fully certified air traffic controllers has not kept up. It has been estimated that there are 1,000 fewer people employed in that position than there were 10 years ago.

This has put a strain on existing employees. Per the WSJ, the FAA oversees around 45,000 flights per day across the US, and during peak times at some of the nation's busiest airports, such as Dallas Forth Worth International, air traffic controllers are responsible for one takeoff or landing every 20 seconds.
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