Next-Gen Tech: Honeywell’s SURF-A Targets Rising Runway Incursions

In the wake of a surge in runway incursions in the U.S., new onboard technology is being hailed as the ‘next big thing’ in aviation safety. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows 2023 had the highest rate of serious runway incursions per million airport operations in a decade. This rise in near-collisions prompted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to urge the FAA to install surface detection equipment at more airports. This technology helped prevent a collision at New York’s JFK in early 2023.

Honeywell’s SURF-A technology. Photo: AirlineGeeks

As part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, more airports will receive this technology. Honeywell Aerospace is developing a new system called Surface Alert (SURF-A) to work alongside existing airport-based detection equipment. SURF-A, a part of Honeywell’s SMART-X system, provides additional warnings to pilots during critical flight phases, aiming to be a ‘third set of eyes’ by accessing ADS-B data from aircraft and vehicles in the runway zone.

Honeywell plans to certify SURF-A within 18-24 months, following successful test flights in late 2023. The system alerted pilots to potential incursions with audible and visual cues, demonstrating its effectiveness. The NTSB has recommended that airlines consider such systems to enhance flight deck safety.