Safety runway meetings set for N.H. airports

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 08-23-2023 4:05 PM

Runway safety meetings are being held at the four airports in New Hampshire with control towers in what federal officials say is a routine annual process. Concord Municipal Airport, which does not have a tower, is not among them.

The meetings gather together airport operations staff, pilots, airline representatives and others involved with the movement of aircraft on runways, taxiways or aprons “to discuss any issues or concerns, to proactively identify trends and look at any events that might have occurred,” said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Such meetings have taken place annually at every towered airport in the country, for many years, he said.

The agency sent out a press release about the meetings this week following a New York Times article that detailed an increasing number of near misses on the ground or during take-offs and landings at commercial airports. The article said this was a reflection of the increasing strain on an understaffed and overworked air-traffic control system.

Despite the concern, the American commercial airline system has an enviable safety record. The last fatal crash happened 14 years ago, the longest such stretch in the country’s aviation history.

FAA runway safety meetings will be held at Laconia Municipal Airport and Boire Field in Nashua in the next two months, the agency said. They will also take place at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Portsmouth International Airport at Pease this year.

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New Hampshire has 24 public airports but most of them, including Concord, do not have towers staffed by trained air traffic controllers. At those airports, pilots make their own decisions about taking off, landing and maneuvering on the ground.

There are more than 5,000 public airports in the United States. Of those, 520 have control towers. The FAA says more than 14,000 private airports exist in the country.

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