Federal officials announced on Wednesday that 43 significant U.S. airports now have the technology necessary to alert pilots when approaching aircraft are headed for the taxiway rather than the runway.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the system’s software forecasts when a jet is prepared to land on a taxiway and notifies air traffic authorities of the situation.
Close misses involving aircraft have yet to feature planes lining up improperly to land on a taxiway, although that mistake almost brought about the catastrophe at San Francisco International Airport in 2017.
After the San Francisco incident, in which an Air Canada jet nearly collided with four other aircraft on a nighttime taxiway, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the technology upgrade.
The safety board also suggested that the FAA mandate technologies that signal pilots if a jet is not lined up with a runway for a landing at a large airport.
The FAA stated that it is still debating that suggestion. Commercial aircraft already have additional tools to assist pilots in aligning with runways at busy airports.
Paved areas, known as taxiways, are used by aircraft to taxi to the terminal after landing or to position themselves for departure. According to the FAA, “general aviation” – privately owned small planes — accounts for most planes landing on taxiways, while 16% include commercial flights.