"U.S. runways have never been safer," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday, announcing a 50% drop in cases of near-collisions by aircraft on the ground. In fiscal 2008, 25 such incidents were reported, compared to just 12 last year. The improvement was even more pronounced in cases involving at least one commercial aircraft: nine incidents in 2008, only two in 2009. Since 2007, the FAA has pushed new technologies and procedures to improve runway safety, and experts say the effort is paying off. Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, says the dramatic improvement noted last year is more than a statistical fluke. "You can't ignore results that are that positive," he says.

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