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Unsafe Airports and Near Misses

Cindy Loose

It's long been known that takeoffs and landings are the most dangerous part of flying, and now a new study by Forbes.com finds that hundreds of commercial jets have come within eight seconds of colliding on runways. The study details the eight most dangerous airports in the U.S., based on incident reports to the FAA. They are:

1. North Las Vegas, a small airport not to be confused with the larger Vegas airport. It has had 63 runway incidents and six deaths since 2001.

2. Long Beach/Dougherty Field, outside L.A., with 78 incidents.

3. Charlotte/Douglas International, N.C., normally safe according to Forbes, shot into third place due to a single serious incident.

Then come the biggest airports--note the study factored in the number of takeoffs and landings when determining which airports were most dangerous.

4 through 8. Los Angeles International, with 95 serious incidents since 2001, followed by Boston's Logan International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Newark International and Chicago O'Hare. The study notes that runway mishaps are up 37 percent since 1995, due in large measure to more flights but inadequate equipment to deal with them. Find the full report here.

The FAA says it will cost $510 million to upgrade 38 major airports. Who out there is interested in paying higher airport taxes to make those improvements happen?

By Cindy Loose |  February 27, 2007; 3:48 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Cindy Loose
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$510 mill. is probably a lot less than a year's worth of $1.00/trip a/p tax on top of what we already pay. The big problem is the incompetence of the FAA, and pilot hubris.

Posted by: papaarts | February 27, 2007 7:08 PM

Our "tombstone mentality" toward transportation safety requires that a U.S. airport suffer an accident like the 1977 ground collision of two 747s at Tenerife that killed 583 people before improvements will be mnadated and Congress will provide funding.

The list of aviation safety improvements that were not implemented by the FAA until they caused a serious accident, many of which had been requested by the NTSB for years beforehand, is long and distinguished.

Posted by: Scott | February 27, 2007 7:17 PM

The Forbes on-line article only gives the top 12. The FAA wants to spend $510 million to upgrade 38 major airports. Which 38 airports is the FAA talking about, does the list include all 12 in the Forbes article, and are any of the Baltimore/DC area included? Further, there are 452 airports that Forbes studied, so who is no. 39 on the FAA list, the first airport that doesn't get funds to upgrade? How much safer is it that no. 38? Should some or all of the upgrade costs be borne by the users of the specific airports (or owners of the airports) on the list, not the traveler who doesn't use those specific airports? Lots of questions, very few answers.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | February 27, 2007 7:20 PM

How does the ranking of of airports change if you normalize for average number of flights per day at the respective airports?

Posted by: Ola | February 27, 2007 7:28 PM

Ola: The study does normalize for airport size and number of flights, as noted in the blog post and in the original article.

Posted by: Dan | February 28, 2007 1:57 PM

You have already paid for these improvements in the tax on every airline ticket into the Aviation trust fund, but since these funds are used to offset the federal deficit ( like social security tax FICA ) they are not used for their intended purpose.

Posted by: Kevin | March 2, 2007 10:53 AM

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