Sunday, September 16, 2012

Making flying safer - on the ground

 By Kelly Yamanouchi

The Atlanta Journal-Constitutio

Even the most frequent flier may relax just a bit when the wheels of a jetliner touch down on the runway. But the risks of flying - however slight statistically - don’t end with a smooth landing.

Industry officials and regulators say taxiing around an airport, especially one as big and busy as Atlanta’s, involves hazards of its own.

Last year Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport logged 18 incidents on runways or taxiways. They ranged from jets that were on or too close to runways being used by another plane, to fenderbenders between wingtips or tails, to a ground vehicle going where it shouldn’t.

Such incidents are exceedingly rare when considered against Hartsfield-Jackson’s 920,000 annual operations. Over the past five years the number has bounced between a high of 23 in 2007 and a low of 14 in 2009.

Still, the potential for disaster with so many huge machines moving around so close together keeps ground accidents high on the list of safety concerns. Recent incidents elsewhere include one last month at Washington Dulles International Airport, in which a Lufthansa Airbus 330 jet’s wing hit the tail of a small Colgan Air plane while taxiing.

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(Hat tip to Augusta Jim ... thank you!)

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