To make runways safer, the FAA is rolling out Surface Awareness Initiative (SAI) systems that will reduce the risk of runway incursions by improving air traffic controllers’ situational awareness. The FAA is also increasing air traffic controller hiring, surpassing its goal of hiring 1,500 new controllers in 2023 and hiring 1,800 in 2024. Additionally, the FAA is enhancing the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative to hire more candidates who can begin facility training immediately upon graduation.

Austin-Bergstrom, Indianapolis, Nashville and Dallas Love Field will be the first airports in the U.S. to receive new airfield surveillance systems. Planned implementation by the Federal Aviation Administration is set for the first four airports by July 2024, with others to follow by the end of 2025.

“We’re committed to doing everything possible to make our runways even safer,” said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker. “This cost-effective technology provides controllers with timely and accurate depictions of aircraft and vehicles on the entire airfield in all weather conditions.”

SAI uses Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data to display surface traffic to controllers at airports that do not have a surface surveillance tool. Aircraft and ADS-B-equipped vehicles appear as icons on an airport map that depicts runways, taxiways, hold ramps and other areas.

SAI is one of the three initiatives that make up the FAA’s fast-tracked surface safety portfolio. The other tools are Approach Runway Verification (ARV) and the Runway Incursion Device (RID).  

Upgraded tower simulator systems will also be deployed in 95 facilities across the country by the end of 2025.

Quickly developing and deploying these technologies is one of many actions the FAA is taking to enhance safety and eliminate serious close calls following the Safety Call to Action and release of the Independent National Airspace System Safety Review Team report last year.

In addition, the FAA is holding regular runway safety action team meetings at airports across the country and is investing millions of dollars for runway lighting and surface improvements at large, medium and small airports.

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