Safety is Good Business

By Debbie Hersman

American Airlines Airbus A320
American Airlines Airbus A320

It has been said that safety is not only everybody’s business, but that it is good for business.

The folks at Airbus and American Airlines believe that as well. American has voluntarily decided to equip its Airbus A320 family fleet with Runway Overrun Prevention System technology, which computes minimum realistic landing distances, taking into account runway topography, weather and other conditions, aircraft weight and balance and wind and weather. The system includes audio callouts and alerts to aid the crew in evaluating whether to continue the landing or to make a decision to go around.

The NTSB has long been concerned about runway overruns. We’ve investigated many accidents, such as a December 2005, accident where a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 ran off the runway at Chicago Midway International Airport and onto an adjacent roadway, where it struck an automobile before coming to a stop. A child in the automobile was killed, 18 of the 103 airplane occupants received minor injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. Following that investigation, we asked the FAA and the industry to focus on landing distance assessments to ensure that pilots were aware of the available stopping distance given environmental conditions and aircraft performance.

Airport Surface Operations is on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements. While commercial aviation has made extraordinary strides in improving its safety record, the NTSB continues to investigate runway overruns, wrong runway departures and collisions between aircraft and between aircraft and ground equipment. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the efforts of Airbus and the commitment of American Airlines, as they have voluntarily embraced this technology to help prevent runway overruns.

Keeping the traveling public safe is everyone’s business.

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