Marshall baffled that FAA safety plan omits LaGuardia

By Jeremy Walsh

Marshall said she was “bewildered” by the omission of LaGuardia in the plan, which includes 20 major airports around the country, including Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International.She urged the FAA to add LaGuardia to the plan, noting that it is one of the busiest airports in the country.According to the FAA's rating of the 50 busiest airports in the country last year, JFK ranked 12th, Newark ranked 14th, and LaGuardia ranked 18th. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was named the busiest.Marshall said the program, which will take more than three years to implement, uses a computer to determine when a runway is in use. The system then turns on red lights at each point where a taxiway intersects the runway.LaGuardia has two shorter-than-average runways that intersect, Marshall said in a letter to acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell.”I am bewildered as to why this airport is not among those scheduled to receive this vital safety upgrade,” she said.Marshall said near-misses occur at LaGuardia, citing a July 2007 incident where an air traffic controller mistakenly cleared a small passenger jet to taxi across a runway as another aircraft touched down.At a media briefing in March, the FAA said there were 370 runway incursions during the 2007 fiscal year, 92 percent of which occurred with sufficient space or time to prevent any immediate danger. There were no collisions during that time, the agency said.According to statistics from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, LaGuardia recorded 31,570 flights in January 2008. During the same month, JFK recorded 35,702 flights, and Newark Liberty reported 36,000.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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