SAN FRANCISCO — Alarmed by a series of potentially deadly landing mishaps at SFO and other airports, a Bay Area congressman is pushing for stronger safeguards to protect thousands of people who depend on the latest airline and airport technology when they take to the skies — and when they take off and land.
U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier introduced new legislation Thursday aimed at making airliner landings safer following a near-disastrous mistake at San Francisco International Airport in 2017 where a wayward jet almost landed on a taxiway where four planes were awaiting takeoff. It was just one in a spate of near deadly runway incursions at SFO and other airports around the country.
“In recent years, runway incursions in the U.S. increased by nearly 83%. With near-misses on the rise, we need to act now to ensure that those incidents do not turn into accidents and that our aviation system remains the safest in the world,” DeSaulnier said.
The FAA already has made changes that affect SFO. Two air traffic controllers must be on duty in the tower during busy nighttime hours, and pilots may no longer use a visual approach to land at SFO at night when a parallel runway is closed. A year ago the NTSB also recommended that airports’ ground radar systems be updated to alert air traffic controllers if a plane is lined up to a taxiway instead of a runway. The Air Canada plane dropped off the radar at SFO for the last 12 seconds of its approach.