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FAA issues ‘safety alert’ after close calls at airports

Airline staff say inadequate rest has been a factor in reducing safety at U.S. airports recently.
FAA issues ‘safety alert’ after close calls at airports
Posted at 12:44 PM, Mar 22, 2023

Recent incidents of aircraft nearly colliding prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to release a new safety alert urging airlines and pilots to be vigilant on duty. 

The FAA noted six recent that prompted the safety alert. Among the incidents was a plane taxiing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York that nearly struck another aircraft that was departing. The FAA also noted a landing aircraft coming within 100 feet of a plane taking off. 

“Safety management requires adapting to continual change,” the FAA’s report said. “Effective safety management is designed to detect emerging safety issues, assess the level of risk and address those risks through mitigations. Those mitigations may be a change in processes, procedures or training. Operators should evaluate information collected through their safety management processes, identify hazards, increase and improve safety communications with employees and enact mitigations.”

The report included a five-point plan, which mostly focused on emphasizing previously established rules and procedures. 

SEE MORE: The FAA is investigating more alarming airplane near-disasters

The safety alert comes one week after the FAA gathered 200 safety leaders for a flight safety summit. 

“There is no question that aviation is amazingly safe, but vigilance can never take the day off,” said acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen. “We must ask ourselves difficult and sometimes uncomfortable questions, even when we are confident that the system is sound.” 

According to a readout of the FAA, pilots and staff expressed concerns over stress in the workplace. They said long work hours have made working conditions more adverse. 

There have been efforts by unions to reduce mandatory work hours. A new rule requires airlines to give a minimum of 10 hours of rest to flight attendants following a shift of 14 hours or less. Previous rules required, in most cases, only allowed nine hours of rest. The previous rule also allowed airlines to reduce the rest period to eight hours if the following rest period lasted at least 10 hours.


SEE MORE: FAA investigating another close call with major airline at US airport

The rule aligns with rest policies in place for pilots.

"Proper rest is critical for flight attendants to do our work as aviation’s first responders,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.