Safety watchdogs call it a runaway problem on America’s runways that could end in tragedy – the near collisions of commercial aircraft. Now, the federal government is funding millions of dollars in airport construction projects to help address the issue.
In an announcement shared first with CNN, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that $121 million from agency grants and from a 2021 infrastructure law will be doled out to eight airports from Florida to Alaska.
This comes three months after the FAA announced $100 million in similar funding for a dozen other airports.
The largest outlay in the latest round of funding is $44.9 million “to simplify the airport layout” at Boston Logan International Airport, the FAA said.
Logan is where a collision was narrowly avoided this year. In February, a JetBlue flight was 30 feet from touching down on the airport’s runway 4 Left when a Learjet operated by a charter company took off in front of the airliner from an intersecting runway.
An air traffic controller told JetBlue’s crew to abort the landing, and the JetBlue pilot climbed the plane to safety, the FAA said.
The probable cause of the incident was the Learjet crew “taking off without a takeoff clearance” from air traffic control, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a final report released this month.
“In some cases the best way to address safety risks is modifying or reconfiguring existing airfields,” Shannetta Griffin, the FAA’s associate administrator for airports, said. “These grants directly address those situations.”
The NTSB is investigating seven runway incursions involving commercial airliners since the start of this year, the board says. The FAA’s announcement follows a Monday New York Times report that found the number of near collisions involving airliners is higher than previously disclosed.
Other airports receiving the latest funding are Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska; Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia; Willow Run Airport in Michigan; Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport in Ohio; Richmond International Airport in Virginia; Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming; and Naples International Airport in Florida.