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Is Cleveland Hopkins really the second most dangerous U.S. airport?

October 14, 2011

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According to Travel & Leisure magazine, it is. Based on a review and analysis of runway safety statistics compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration, the magazine concluded that during the five year period ending in 2010, Cleveland Hopkins had the second largest number of potentially dangerous runway incidents among the 35 busiest U.S. airports. By the magazine’s calculations, only Chicago O’Hare had more potentially dangerous incidents.

The magazine’s conclusions were reached by counting the number of “runway incidents” recorded by the FAA at each of the 35 busiest airports and dividing that number by the total number of takeoffs and landings. “Runway incidents” included everything from near collisions to the unauthorized presence of people or vehicles on the runway. The magazine then added an adjustment factor to this number to account for the rate at which specific types of more serious incidents occurred at each airport. Cleveland’s 45 total incidents earned it the second worst rating, with Chicago O’Hare’s 75 incidents earning it the top spot.

Coming in second is small consolation. However, the magazine also noted that Cleveland Hopkins has completed a major runway extension project that “eliminated crossover with a smaller runway and provided pilots and air traffic controllers with a less confusing takeoff and landing environment.” These changes, in turn, are expected to reduce unsafe runway encounters in the future. As the magazine also noted, dangerous runway incidents have been on the decline nationwide, in part as a result of a federal “call to action” on runway safety issues launched in 2007.

Travel & Leisure's article on airport safety appeared in its October 2011 issue, and may be found online at

Author: Jamie Lebovitz

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