A team of specialists from the Federal Aviation Administration toured Logan International Airport earlier this week to investigate a rash of near-collisions on its runways.
Members of the FAA’s “Tiger Team” were to spend two or three days studying Logan’s runway safety procedures and evaluating the performance of its air-traffic controllers, according to FAA spokesman Jim Peters.
“It’s not just the controllers we’re looking at,” Peters said. “We’re looking at everything because some of the (near-collisions) have been attributed to actions taken by pilots.”
Logan has had 16 “runway incursions” since last October, including an incident earlier this month in which a jet had to abort its takeoff when it crossed paths with another jet on the runway.
The most serious near-collision at Logan occurred on June 9, when an Aer Lingus Airbus A330 and a US Airways Boeing 737 carrying a combined 381 passengers and crew came within about 170 feet of each other.
FAA officials blamed that near-collision on errors by two controllers, but they haven’t found a link connecting the 16 incidents.
“If there was a quick fix, we probably would have identified it by now,” said Thomas Kinton, director of aviation for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan.
However, the fact that Logan has five cramped, intersecting runways may explain why there have been more incursions there than at other airports of its size.
“It’s a high number, and we’re concerned about it,” Peters said.
Kinton said he welcomes the evaluation.
“Getting outsiders to look at the problem tends to give you a fresh look,” he said.
Once the team completes its evaluation, it will issue its findings in a report to FAA chief Marian Blakey.
“That’s not going to happen overnight,” Peters said. “That will take as long as necessary.”
Peters said another FAA team is conducting a similar evaluation this week at Los Angeles International Airport, where last year a Boeing 737 nearly collided on the runway with a Boeing 747 that was landing. The pilot of the 747 spotted the other plane and climbed to avoid hitting it.
Two members of the “Tiger Team” at Logan this week are Massport employees.
“They bring with them a vast amount of knowledge on how the airport operates,” Peters said. “It’s to our benefit to include them on the team.”
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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