On Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board issued its “most wanted” improvements in the transportation system. Usually, runway incursions at airports, are high on the list and this year is no exception.
Perhaps the most famous incursion was in Tenerife, when two 747s collided on the runway, killing 583 people.
In the latest report, the NTSB cites the fatigue of air traffic controllers, and uses an incident in San Francisco in May as an example. Two jets came within 35 feet of each other.
It happens more often than it should, according to the NTSB. It happens in Minneapolis.
A search of the Aviation Reporting Safety System database (a confidential reporting system in which pilots get immunity for reporting safety problems) reveals one Boeing 737 pilot who, last December, followed a controller’s orders while taxiing, nearly wiped out a commuter jet. “They were so close to our jet, I could see both pairs of cockpit crew member’s eyes at night,” the pilot reported. “I seriously doubted their wing would clear our nose.”
When the pilot reported the incident to the tower controller, “they seemed very unconcerned with our near collision. I have never been closer to an aircraft accident in my career.”
NTSB member Kitty Higgins on Thursday said an accident is “inevitable.” The NTSB suggested there are incidents like this in the country “every day.”