Analysis: FAA 2023 safety initiatives in review

An Air Traffic Controller in control tower.
Photo Credit: FAA

Continuing its work to improve aviation safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tasked a panel of fatigue experts to identify new ways to address air traffic controller fatigue.

This crucial initiative, which becomes the latest FAA safety initiative in what has been a busy year, involves a three-member panel of fatigue experts tasked with exploring innovative solutions to enhance the well-being of air traffic controllers.

Let’s delve into the FAA’s latest efforts and the broader scope of actions undertaken in 2023 to fortify the nation’s aviation safety.

The Expert Panel

The expert panel, set to commence its work in early January, comprises distinguished professionals in the field.

Chaired by safety and sleep/fatigue expert Mark Rosekind, the panel also includes Charles Czeisler and Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, both renowned authorities in sleep and circadian disorders.

Their collective expertise is poised to bring about groundbreaking insights into addressing controller fatigue.


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2023 in Review: Safety Initiatives Unveiled

“We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted. Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent. Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions,” Billy Nolen, former Acting FAA Administrator stated earlier this year.

In February 2023 former FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen issued a Safety Call to Action with the goal of ensuring that infrastructure was fit for purpose for the U.S. aerospace system both now and into the future.

As we reflect on the year 2023, the FAA has unfolded a series of initiatives geared towards elevating aviation safety standards. Let’s explore some notable actions taken by the FAA:

1. Cockpit Voice-Recording Extension

One significant proposal involves extending the cockpit voice-recording requirement. The current two-hour data retention regulation may be extended to 25 hours for all newly manufactured aircraft.

This move aims to enhance incident identification, prevention, and align more closely with international standards.

2. Independent Aviation Safety Review Team

Established in April 2023, the Independent Aviation Safety Review Team diligently examined ways to boost safety and reliability in the air traffic system.

Their comprehensive assessment, presented in November 2023, outlined concrete recommendations to advance air traffic safety.

An American Airlines Boeing 787 landing.
Jakkrit Prasertwit (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

3. Runway Safety Measures

The FAA took proactive steps to improve runway safety, scheduling 16 additional runway safety meetings for 2023 and investing over $200 million in enhanced lighting at airports.

This includes fast-tracking initiatives to address specific safety concerns on airport surfaces and forming a new advisory committee to explore advanced technologies like cockpit-alerting systems.

4. Controller “Stand Up for Safety” Campaign

In an effort to ensure the well-being of its controller workforce, the FAA launched the “Stand Up for Safety” campaign.

This series mandates special emphasis training for controllers, focusing on their safety in diverse operational scenarios.

Close-up of aircraft wing and engines in hangar.
Photo Credit: Joe Ambrogino via Pexels

5. Surface Safety Industry Day

On June 6, 2023, the FAA hosted the Surface Safety Industry Day, seeking innovative solutions for surface situational awareness.

The event aimed to identify cost-effective technological solutions to enhance awareness in environments lacking surface surveillance capabilities.

6. Air Traffic Organization Commitments

The FAA’s Air Traffic Organization pledged to enhance safety by ensuring supervisors focus on operations during peak traffic periods, providing specialized training for unusual circumstances, and issuing safety alerts with specific recommendations.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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