Sky Harbor’s ‘dangerous’ rating ripped - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Sky Harbor’s ‘dangerous’ rating ripped

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Posted: Saturday, February 24, 2007 5:57 am | Updated: 6:22 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Air safety officials are disputing a list published on Forbes.com that ranks Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as the nation’s fourth most dangerous airport.

The article based its findings on information about 452 airports from the Federal Aviation Administration. The figures pertained to potentially dangerous incidents at airfields such as airplanes passing too close to each other during takeoffs and landings.

The article said Sky Harbor had 49 incidents or closecalls and two deaths during the past five years because of heavy traffic and pilots being unable to see each other.

“That’s flat out wrong,” said Ian Gregor, a FAA spokesman.

Gregor said there have been no fatalities that he’s aware of at Sky Harbor. And he said 45 of the 49 incidents cited were “very minor” and could hardly be considered serious.

Sky Harbor officials said there have never been any fatalities resulting from accidents at the airport.

“We have significant concerns about the accuracy of this article,” said airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez.

In a letter to the magazine’s editor, Paul Maidment, Sky Harbor officials challenged the article’s accuracy and said the airport received a safety award from the FAA in 2006.

Officials also called into question a so-called “collision” between two Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s, which was cited in the article. Sky Harbor officials said the planes “clipped wing tips” and “no one was injured.”

A Forbes.com spokeswoman said the organization stood behind the article and invited the FAA to respond.

Gregor said the article also over-dramatized data on Los Angeles International Airport, North Las Vegas Airport and the Long Beach, Calif., airport. Sky Harbor, he said, had one of the lowest incident rates involving incursions, when an aircraft, vehicle, person or other object on an airport runway created a potential collision hazard.

“Phoenix’s runways are among the safest in the country,” he said.

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