San Francisco, CA – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Captain “Sully” Sullenberger announced the introduction of the Safe Landings Act (H.R. 4166), to address near-miss aircraft incidents like the Air Canada flight arriving at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on July 7, 2017 that came dangerously close to landing on a taxiway occupied by four aircraft loaded with more than 1,000 passengers.
“In recent years, runway incursions in the U.S. increased by nearly 83%. With near-misses on the rise, we need to act now to ensure that those incidents do not turn into accidents and that our aviation system remains the safest in the world,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. “With two years of research and expert input on multiple near-miss incidents, the product is what the flying public deserves. I appreciate the guidance we received, especially from Captain Sullenberger and CAPA President Captain Rooney, to be proactive and address near-misses before they turn deadly.”
“As aviation has become safer, it has become harder to avoid complacency. We have made air travel so safe and routine, some have assumed that because we haven’t had a lot of accidents in recent years we must be doing everything right. But we can no longer define safety solely as the absence of accidents. We must do much more than that; we must be much more proactive than that. We need to proactively find flaws and risks and mitigate them before they lead to harm. We must investigate accidents before they happen. I enthusiastically support Congressman DeSaulnier’s bill, which will provide the resources and means to make that a reality, and allow us to continue to do everything possible to protect the safety of Americans when they travel by air,” said Captain Sullenberger.
The Safe Landings Act addresses technology needs, training expansion, and a new federal task force to research and identify safety risks from human error. Congressman DeSaulnier spent 2 years researching, reviewing numerous near-miss incidents, and holding more than 60 meetings to get the advice of multiple stakeholders in the aviation industry, including Captain Sullenberger, pilots unions, air traffic controllers, mechanics, ground safety crews, federal agencies (NTSB and FAA), and more.
Specifically, the Safe Landings Act:
- Requires FAA to implement systems that would alert both pilots and air traffic controllers if a plane is not properly aligned to land on a runway;
- Requires FAA to gather data and report on under what circumstances airlines require pilots to back up visual approaches with electronic guidance to verify they are landing on the correct runway, and issue guidance on the most effective techniques;
- Requires the “notices to airmen” (NOTAM) system to be harmonized with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards;
- Compels the GAO to do a study on the concerns some pilots have with cockpit voice recorders (CVRs), like inappropriate foreign government use, and provide recommendations to improve CVRs while protecting pilots;
- Creates a Task Force onHuman Factors in Aviation Safety to review and provide recommendations.
“We applaud Representative DeSaulnier’s proactive efforts to improve aviation safety with the ‘Safe Landings Act’,” stated Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) President Captain Larry Rooney. “Aviation safety is a direct result of the continued collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to ensure that the safety of the traveling public remains paramount. This legislation provides the latest opportunity to further refine and improve on known and newly discovered safety deficiencies. CAPA looks forward to providing the subject matter expertise necessary to ensure that this important safety legislation becomes enacted into law.” CAPA represents roughly 30,000 pilots and many pilots unions.
As part of his ongoing effort to improve aviation safety, Congressman DeSaulnier also included four provisions in last year’s FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4). They included measures to study pilot and air traffic controller alerts, reduce the risks associated with power outages at airports for landing aircraft, improve data analysis for safety, and make vehicle travel to and around airports more efficient.