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Extra, extra: the FAA releases its latest updates on airport safety

Extra extra the FAA releases its latest updates on airport safety

Welcome to the world of aviation: where rules and regulations are ever-evolving and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working its hardest to keep the skies as safe as they can be. 

The FAA strives to create the safest aerospace system possible, and they do that through data and research, regulations, and policies and guidelines geared towards maintaining high levels of accountability and safety. As a government entity, they are accountable to the American public and their aviation stakeholders, so you can rest assured they are constantly innovating and evolving to fit current safety standards.

We’ve rounded up their latest newsroom updates and are sharing them with you here to keep you in the know about the most recent news in the aviation field.

1. The Independent Safety Review team’s recommendations and how the FAA is taking action

According to the report, the FAA-commissioned team “examined the FAA’s internal safety processes, staffing levels, and practices, as well as needs for facilities and equipment and how the agency’s air traffic budget is funded”.

This led to the FAA taking prompt action on a number of issues across the field, including, but not limited to, providing additional support to colleges and universities in the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) to ensure graduates are prepared with the requisite skills for on-the-job training at graduation, expanding the use of advance training across the country, and strengthening the safety culture of the FAA by providing reports from the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service to the FAA Administrator and Aviation Safety Associate Administrator.

The recent Aviation Safety Summit initiated a commitment to “zero serious close calls” on runways, and the FAA remains committed to that goal through a series of safety initiatives. Billy Nolen, former Acting FAA Administrator, said, “We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted. Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent. Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions”.

2. Breaking down the barriers to pilots’ mental health: Rule-making Committee appointed

Pilots are required to report certain mental health conditions to aviation medical examiners, who then determine their ability to fly. Yet, there are many obstacles that often prevent pilots from reporting the extent of their mental health issues to the agency, whether stigma, fear of disqualification to fly, or something else. To combat these barriers, the FAA has appointed a Pilot Mental Health Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to further build on the practices already in place to support the mental health of pilots across the nation.

Increased mental health training of examiners will lend itself to higher levels of support for individuals, while further industry-wide research and clinical studies on the mental health of pilots will continue to help make strides towards better understanding and better treatment and care. Also among the initiatives previously created to help prioritize pilot mental health is an increase in education and outreach to pilot groups to get them the help they need, as well as an amended policy to decrease cognitive testing in those on antidepressant medication.

The new ARC will include medical experts as well as aviation and labor representatives. By the time you read this, the panel of experts should have been selected and the charter finalized.

3. The final Runway Safety Action Team meetings of the year are on the calendar

Following a string of incidents, the FAA initiated a Safety Call to Action in February 2023 and hosted a Safety Summit in March 2023 to get a grip on the persistent safety issues the aviation world has faced of late. In light of the FAA’s commitment to zero serious close calls, meetings have been held across the country in 2023 in an effort to further improve runway safety and keep aircraft safely separated. Tim Arel, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, said “Sharing information is critical to improving safety. These meetings, along with other efforts, will help us achieve our goal of zero close calls”.

The meetings, held annually at each airport with a control tower, were created to identify airport-specific risks on the runways and ways to remediate them. The final 16 meetings of this year will be held throughout the remainder of November and December at major and minor airports such as Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, St. Louis Regional Airport, and more.

4. Unruly passengers beware: the FAA has made you into a meme

The rate of unruly passengers has increased as of late, thus instigating a comedic and relatable campaign by the FAA to reduce those numbers yet again: memes.

The latest meme, posted shortly before Halloween, featured a couple’s costume you might not have considered: an unruly passenger and a police officer escorting them to security. Find yourself itching to create a scene on an airplane? Better think again, as the FAA will gift you with some hefty fines and possible jail time if you follow through. Fines for dangerous behavior can post at $37,000 or more, and law enforcement will be brought in for the most extreme cases thanks to the FAA’s Zero Tolerance Policy.

Police Officer & Unruly Passenger Couple’s Costume  – FAA

Their Zero Tolerance Policy is just that: tolerant of zero threatening or violent behaviors on an airplane. Implemented on January 13, 2021, after a shocking number of incidents, the policy has helped decrease dangerous behavior by 60 percent. Interested in seeing how the FAA continues to combat unruly passengers? Read more here.

And that’s the latest from the FAA!

OTW is so committed to safety that we put it in our name, and we are happy to report on the ways the aviation community seeks to keep its passengers and employees safe on and off the runway.

Follow along with the OTW Safety Journal for more updates on all things safety!