Following an “uptick” in aircraft document calls, the FAA is holding a Safety Summit

Washington – after A series of closed calls involving business tripsAviation leaders are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss incidents and work to identify patterns and factors that are feeding risk to the industry.

The FAA announced the Safety Summit last month as part of a review of the nation’s airspace system, looking at the structure, culture, systems, and integration of safety efforts.

“We’re going through the safest period in aviation history, but we can’t take that for granted,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen. “Recent events remind us that we shouldn’t get complacent. It’s time to stare at the data and ask the tough questions.”

The summit will include remarks from Nolen as well as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy. The event will also feature a panel moderated by Nolen and former NTSB President Robert Sumwalt, while participants will include various union officials and lobbyists.

Nolen will ask participants what they see in their operations and ask for specific ideas on how to strengthen the country’s safety net with concrete actions.

In an interview, Buttigieg said he had noticed an “uptick” in close calls with the Jets in recent weeks. “This year, we’re on track to have more than 20 — and even one I wouldn’t want to happen,” he told ABC News Transportation reporter Geo Benitez.

Buttigieg said he was “very concerned” about the incidents but stressed the overall safety of the country’s aviation system.

“We need to make sure that there is continuous improvement, continued interest in our national aviation system,” Buttigieg said. “Air travel has not become the safest way to travel alone. The American transportation system has had to learn from decades of accidents.”

The data shows the most serious accidents has been decreased Over the past two decades even with the total number of accidents increasing.

Buttigieg told ABC News that aviation’s rebound from the lows seen in the COVID-19 pandemic was “stressing the system” and the increased demand for air travel may also be contributing to the recent close calls.

When asked if experience among those in the aviation business was to blame, Buttigieg replied, “It’s not just general experience.”

“We’re still talking about humans,” he said. “And while, again, these instances are extremely rare — we wouldn’t let any of them pass without taking a close, focused look at how they occurred, why they occurred, and what steps could be taken to prevent them from occurring.”

Buttigieg wrote to attendees of the Safety Summit on Tuesday, saying he expects to accomplish three things: identify “patterns and risk factors,” identify how different parts of the aviation system can “address any risks,” and identify and implement “additional steps.” to reduce those risks.

“It is our responsibility to take a close look at all factors and identify the steps needed to foster a culture of safety and strengthen safety practices, especially given the significant disruptions and changes in the aviation sector emerging from a global pandemic,” Buttigieg wrote.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating a series of incidents

The FAA and NTSB are currently investigating six close calls involving commercial aircraft in recent months — five of which occurred at airports and one over the Pacific Ocean.

In December, United Flight 1722 to San Francisco experienced a sudden loss of altitude over the Pacific, officials said. Shortly after taking off from Maui, the Boeing 777 descended to just 775 feet above the water in less than 20 seconds. The aircraft was then able to regain altitude and continue to its final destination. There were no injuries.

On January 13, an American Airlines plane crossed a runway at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport without air traffic control clearance, causing a Delta Airlines plane to abort its takeoff from that runway, according to the NTSB. An initial agency report stated that the closest point between the two planes was about 1,400 feet.

Also in January, United Airlines crossed runway 384 at Honolulu Airport without air traffic control clearance. A Cessna was landing on the same runway at the time. The Cessna stopped about 1,170 feet from the United flight, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. There were no injuries or damage to the plane.

On February 4, a FedEx plane landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas 100 feet from a Southwest Airlines plane taking off on the same runway, the FAA said. Both aircraft have air traffic control clearance to use this runway.

And in February, two more close calls took place, according to officials — one of which occurred at Florida’s Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport after an air traffic controller cleared an American Airlines flight to land on the same runway, and a Canadian Airways flight was cleared to land. . take off from. The American flight itself began to spin and the two planes were about 3,100 feet apart.

The other incident occurred at Boston Logan International Airport after a Learjet took off without air traffic control clearance while a JetBlue plane was preparing to land on an intersecting runway.

ABC News’ Clara McMichael and Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

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