Friday, April 15, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Runway incursions on the rise at Honolulu International Airport (PHNL)

Peter Forman
 Aviation industry expert.

Aviation forum at Honolulu International Airport.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -  Honolulu Airport had the highest number of runway incursions in the nation for the past three years in a row, Federal Aviation Administration figures show.

There were 13 incidents in 2013, which more than doubled to 42 in the following year. In 2015, there were 36. These incursions include minor runway lane violations, more serious mishaps and even one near-miss.

In April 2015, a helicopter came within 100 feet of a Piper Apache, but avoided contact in time.  

"My understanding is that if the FAA doesn't like the numbers they put pressure on the airport," said local aviation expert Peter Forman. "So they then consider alternatives such as reducing the light plane and helicopter activity at the airport."

Concerns over airport safety drew dozens of those pilots to a forum Wednesday evening at the Honolulu Airport.  The dialogue is meant to improve the rules at the airport and to reduce the number of incursions.

Honolulu Airport is one of the world's largest and busiest airports. It's also one of the few where large commercial carriers share the tarmac with smaller tour companies, helicopters and solo pilots. Some say that results in a higher frequency of runway incidents.

Forman attributed the high numbers to recently installed sensors at the airport, which can tell if a plane is in the wrong place.  

"Before, if a pilot ... stops one foot over the hold-short line, that wouldn't be detected," he said.  "Nowadays that would be detected as an error."

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