THE 10 SAFEST AIRPORTS IN THE US
It’s official: flying is safer than ever. There may be the occasional incident involving sleepy pilots or a passenger with air rage, but accidents are at a minimum. Some airports are better than others and the number of safe airports is increasing thanks to stricter regulations and safety improvements made by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Data from the FAA was used to determine the following list of the top 10 safest airports in the U.S. The methodology for determining the scores is described below by Travel & Leisure Magazine.
To calculate an airport’s safety score, they used information from the FAA’s Runway Safety Report and individual runway safety data supplied by the FAA. They started with the Runway Incident Rate—the total number of runway incidents divided by the total number of runway operations (takeoffs and landings), then averaged the rate for the five years covered in our survey period.
They then looked at serious (Category A and B) runway incidents in which there was a strong or good possibility of a crash or human casualties. We assigned values to these incidents: 1 for “A” and 0.5 for “B.” They added these Category A/B incident scores to the overall incident rate per year to achieve an overall score and ranking.
1. NORTHERN KENTUCKY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CVG) Score – 0.26
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 4
Safety Innovations – The major improvements made to this airport include a new north-south runway and underground transportation. The safety record of this airport is so good that there has been just a single runway incident during the period of 2008 to 2010. In addition, the incident did not have any safety implications.
2. MEMPHIS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (MEM) Score – 0.588
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 10
Safety Innovations – The FAA’s new and modern building has a state of the art control tower with an extensive radar approach control. The safety record of the airport is outstanding considering the fact that it is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world. It shares its runways with the Tennessee Air National Guard.
3. GEORGE BUSH HOUSTON INTERCONTINENTAL AIRPORT (IAH) Score – 0.68
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 19
Safety Innovations – The master plan of this airport has provisions for perimeter taxiway to prevent arriving and departing aircrafts from crossing paths by making them loop around active runways. This airport is one of the four airports in the world that offers direct flights to all inhabited continents.
4. PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (PIT) Score – 0.70
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 6
Safety Innovations – Due to the weather in Pittsburgh, the airport has made provisions for the removal of snow and ice. The ice and snow removal system of the airport makes it one of the safest airports globally, especially during the winter months. Safety innovations of the airport include rear and front de-icing teams as well as runway sensors relaying current information of ice and snow conditions. There is also direct communication between the control tower and the snow removal teams.
5. PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (PDX) Score – 0.73
Runway Incidents between 2006 and 2010 – 9
Safety Innovations – The airport had a three year program for improvement of the airport. The airport now has a bigger runway, a reconstructed second runway and newer taxiways.
6. ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (MCO) Score – 0.75
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 13
Safety Innovations – Thanks to the relatively cheap land that was available in central Florida, this airport expanded and constructed parallel runways which made operations much safer. Its Runway Status Lights System helps the pilots get real time runway occupancy information.
7. SAN DIEGO LINDBERGH FILED INTERNATIONAL (SAN) Score – 0.85
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 4
Safety Innovations – Although the approach to Lindbergh field is low, it is one of the top 10 safest airports in the U.S. It has a Runway Status Lights System and has undergone operational evaluation.
8. MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (MSP) Score – 0.93
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 21
Safety Innovations – MSP is one of the oldest and biggest airports in the U.S. It has four runways, de-icing pads and upgraded electronic aircraft guidance systems. It also has aprons, taxiways and repaved runways.
9. LAGUARDIA AIRPORT (LGA) Score – 0.97
Runway Incidents from 2006 to 2010 – 17
Safety Innovations – This airport in New York is one of smallest in the metropolitan area with an excellent safety record. The ongoing rehabilitation program of the airport includes Touchdown Zone Lights on both its runways to enhance safety of the airport.
10. DETROIT METRO AIRPORT (DTW) Score – 1.33
Runway Incidents between 2006 and 2010 – 31
Safety Innovations and Enhancements – The airport has special equipment for detection of airport surface that monitors the aircrafts’ and vehicles’ position on the taxiways, parking areas and runways. It has its own Runway Status Lights Systems, which will be operational from 2014.
Photo Credits (in order): Bryan Correira, Daniel Betts, Courtesy of Houston Airport System, Amy Strycula / Alamy, Courtesy of Port of Portland, Courtesy of Orlando International Airport, Aerial Archives / Alamy, Aerial Archives / Alamy, Courtesy of The Port Authority of NY & NJ, Wayne County Airport Authority/Vito Palmisano