U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will visit Little Rock as one stop on a four-state trip next week highlighting federal investments in airfield safety, according to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday afternoon.
Buttigieg's schedule Wednesday will take him to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina and Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field in Arkansas.
Those visits will be followed by trips to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport and the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (also at the Oklahoma City airport) on Thursday, according to the news release from the Transportation Department.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday issued a safety alert to the aviation community that underscored "the need for continued vigilance and attention to mitigation of safety risks," citing six "serious runway incursions" that have taken place since January.
The safety alert, which included a list of recommended actions for airlines, pilots and others, was preceded by an aviation safety summit the Federal Aviation Administration held earlier this month.
"America has the world's safest and most complex aviation system because of our rigorous standards and the dedicated aviation workforce that ensures millions of people get to their destinations safely every day. But we can never take our safety record for granted -- as recent close calls have made clear," Buttigieg said in a statement included with the release Friday.
"I look forward to seeing firsthand some of the innovative ways airports are layering in new safety measures, and hearing from the people putting them into action at our nation's airports," he added.
In a statement via email Friday, Little Rock airport spokesman Shane Carter said, "We look forward to showing Secretary Buttigieg the $60 million reconfiguration of Taxiway Charlie, which is underway and parallel to our main commercial runway located west of the terminal. This multiphase project will eliminate angled taxiway-runway intersections to make the airfield safer."
Although it did not involve a close call on a taxiway or runway of the kind that has prompted the Federal Aviation Administration's increased focus on risks, Little Rock was the site of a deadly plane crash last month.
On Feb. 22, a Columbus, Ohio-bound plane owned and operated by an environmental consulting firm crashed shortly after taking off from Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field, killing all five people on board.