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Dangerous runway incidents at Pearson airport probed in new TSB report

The Transportation Safety Board is set to release a new report on its investigation into a series of runway incidents at Canada’s busiest airport.

The independent safety watchdog’s findings on runway incursions at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport will be released at a news conference starting at 10 a.m. ET.

A runway incursion is when an aircraft or ground vehicle “mistakenly occupies an active runway,” according to the TSB.

Since 2010, the TSB has completed probes into 10 separate incursions at Pearson. They include several incidents that involved two planes colliding at low speeds.

Between 2013 and 2017, Nav Canada — the organization that oversees Canada’s civil aviation navigation system — reported an average of 445 runway incursions at airports each year. While the “vast majority” of those instances posed little or no risk to passengers, crew and airport staff, 21 of them were classified as “high severity,” the TSB says.

“These could have led to a collision with aircraft, damage, injuries and loss of life,” it says on its website.

Over that same period, there has been an 18 per cent increase in the overall rate of runway incursions per 100,000 arrivals and departures across Canada.

While industry stakeholders have taken actions to address the problem of incursions, the TSB says more can be done.

“Additional technological improvements could be made, for example, runway status lights, a form of direct-to-pilot warning. These exist in at least 23 international locations, though none has yet been installed in Canada,” the agency says.

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