PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– Following a taxiway collision between two planes in New York, an exclusive CBS3 I-Team Investigation now reveals there have been 14 runway incursions at Philadelphia International Airport in the past 16 months.

The FAA records indicate the incursions, which it classified as “not serious,” involved planes and sometimes vehicles mistakenly on the same runway or heading toward each other. There were no collisions or injuries, but aviation attorney Arthur Wolk says any incursion is “extremely serious,” in his words, “an accident that could have happened.”

The I-Team investigation also found that the FAA, in a current on-line posting, alerts pilots to what it calls “hot spots” at three locations on runways and taxiways at Philadelphia International Airport.

The FAA describes a “hotspot” as a”runway safety related problem area or intersection.” Wolk, an internationally recognized aviation expert, claims a major reason for the “incursions” and “hotspots” is lack of proper signs and lighting to guide pilots.

An FAA spokesman says the agency has improved lighting and signage at PHL, even holding a two day conference for airport officials and pilots there last December to promote new ways of eliminating incursions.

Wolk responds that many of the new signs are more confusing than the ones they replaced.

FAA officials point out that what they call “serious” runway incursions nationwide have been reduced from 67 in 2000 to just six in 2010.

The incursions, they point out, were cut by 50 percent last year from the 12 reported in 2009.  

Reported by Walt Hunter, CBS 3

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