US Senate Committee to ‘examine serious close calls’ to prevent ‘catastrophe’

JetBlue Learjet near miss NTSB

A United States (US) subcommittee will meet on November 9, 2023, to “examine serious close calls” between aircraft across the National Airspace System. 

The Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation subcommittee will be chaired by Senator Tammy Duckworth and will explore ways to “improve the US aviation system’s safety culture, processes and technologies”. 

Witnesses called to discuss the close calls will include, Jennifer Homendy, the Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Timothy Arel, the Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Organization and Rich Santa, President of the National Air Traffic Controller Association

In February 2023, the FAA issued a Safety Call to Action to take a critical look at the US aerospace system’s structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts. The FAA and the aviation community are pursuing a goal of zero serious close calls. 

Since January 2023, the NTSB has launched seven investigations into close calls between aircraft.  

“There have been far too many close calls and near-misses on our runways,” Homendy said in a recent speech. 

According to the NTSB Chair the seven incidents in 2023 put “more than 1,300 human lives at risk”. 

“These recent incidents must serve as a wake-up call for every single one of us, before something more catastrophic occurs,” Homendy added. 

In August 2023, an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 NextGeneration (NG) and a Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo were involved in a near-miss at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). 

In February 2023, another near-miss at BOS occurred when a JetBlue Embraer E190 and a LearJet 60 private almost collided on the runway. 

The NTSB concluded that the potential cause of the incident was the Learjet 60 taking off without clearance, resulting in a conflict with the JetBlue E190, which had been cleared to land on an intersecting runway. 

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