Study: Big Risk Of US Runways

Planes sit parked on the tarmac at the Des Moines International Airport in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007. Officials decided to close Des Moines International Airport after a United Airlines plane slid off a taxiway as it was heading to a runway to take off on a flight to Chicago's O'Hare, said airport spokesman Roy Criss. (AP Photo/Kevin Sanders)

CAPITOL HILL (AP) -- Congressional investigators are sounding the alarm about the danger of airplanes running into each other -- on the ground.

The report says there is "a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision occurring in the United States" because of faltering federal leadership, malfunctioning technology and overworked air traffic controllers.

The investigators give the FAA credit for reducing runway safety incidents from a peak in 2001, but says the number of incidents has risen again.

In fiscal 2007, which ended September 30, there were 370 runway incursions or a little more than six per 1 million air traffic control operations. An incursion is defined as any aircraft, vehicle or person that goes where it shouldn't be in space reserved for take-off or landing.

This year has seen dramatic near-collisions, such as last August, when two commercial jets carrying 296 people came within 37 feet of colliding at LAX.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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