News Article - October 17, 2007

  The FAA has released disturbing details regarding close calls at Philadelphia International airport a day after two planes crashed at one of the world's busiest airports. FAA documents obtained by the CBS 3 I-Team revealed that planes have been on a collision course on the runway at Philadelphia International four times this year. The leading aviation authority said a big part of the problem is confusing markers and lights along the runway.

   Passengers riding a flight landing at Philadelphia International on July 29 had no idea a regional jet taking off was heading towards them on a collision course. The approaching jet was warned by an alert controller and aborted its takeoff. "You are basically seconds away from a disaster," said aviation attorney, Arthur Wolk. Wolk said the planes were 2,200 feet away; however they were only seconds apart when factoring in jet speed. "You can't stop an airplane like you can stop a car. You might be able to stop a car at 150 feet, with an airplane it takes thousands of feet," said Wolk. According to FAA data, the July 29 incident was one of four runway incursions reported at Philadelphia International in 2007.

   On June 13, an airplane was cleared for takeoff forgetting a vehicle was on the runway. The plane aborted its takeoff just 2,000 feet and seconds from a possible collision. "I think it's becoming an epidemic because I think the signage. Those signs that are available to flight crews are simply terribly confusing and becoming more and more confusing," said Wolk. The FAA said the signage has nothing to do with the close calls, and three of the four incidents are Philadelphia International were due to pilot errors.

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Source - CBS-3