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Project HORIZON, on page 294, has this to say about Safe Airports: "Programs must be directed towards steady improvements in airports that are adequate in size and facilities for the type and amount of traffic handled, free of glide-path and take-off obstacles, with fire fighting and other crash facilities adequately manned and equipped." An airport poses three safety problems: 1. The airport in relation to the operators of aircraft. For example, air-ports should not act as a bottleneck to air traffic. 2. The airport as a risk to the surrounding community and, conversely the surrounding community as a threat to the safety of aircraft operations. 3. The airport as a safe place for the population that uses it: the workers, the visitors, the passengers. This discussion will be limited to airports that serve land aircraft. The number of landings per fatal accident have improved in the past ten years about tenfold. The absolute number of accidents, as distinct from the rate, continues to be serious because the number of landings in ten years has more than doubled. In respect to the airport and the operators of aircraft, about 30% of all accidents in transport operations occur in the approach and landing phase. A very high percentage of these can be attributed to inadequate facilities at the airport.* In addition to attracting landing accidents, the airport creates a mid-air collusion potential if it acts as a bottleneck to the flow of air traffic, caused by insufficient runways, poorly designed taxiways, inadequate traffic control, and variable traffic patterns, especially at smaller airports where transport and private aircraft use different patterns. The airports' inability to monitor pilots' adherence to required patterns is another factor. The problem of the landing aircraft can be attacked by giving the pilot the aids he needs during the critical time of landing so that even is he is an expert he will be less prone to undershoot or overshoot. As a body, the professional pilots indeed are experts, else they could not have established a safety record which provides life insurance at the same rate as a chess player. However, they represent a cross-section of the population, with all the human frailties this implies: their competence will vary; they have good days and bad days. It is not sound to assume that all pilots are continuously at their peak performance. Automatic all-weather landing systems should --------------------------------------------------------- *See Critical Factors In Approach and Landing Accidents, Part I - Statistics. By Otto Kirchner, Flight Safety Foundation, Inc., 468 Park Avenue South, New York 16, N. Y. Z2465.2
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