U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field on Wednesday afternoon as part of a four-state tour highlighting aviation safety efforts.
In Little Rock, Buttigieg greeted officials on the airfield near construction equipment associated with the multiphase Taxiway Charlie construction project. The $60 million airfield reconfiguration, which is meant to mitigate risks by eliminating angled taxiway-runway intersections, has been supported by $31 million in federal funding awarded to date.
Six "serious runway incursions" at airports nationwide since January prompted a recent Federal Aviation Administration safety summit and a subsequent safety alert to the aviation community.
"Just as we set out to eliminate commercial plane crashes years ago, today we have to eliminate serious close calls as well," Buttigieg said Wednesday at an airfield news conference. "While they remain extremely rare, it is a reality that we must confront that in recent months we've seen an increase in the number of those close calls."
Buttigieg's visit to Little Rock followed a stop at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina earlier in the day. The transportation secretary is scheduled to visit airports in Texas and Oklahoma on Thursday.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the amount of federal funding awarded to Clinton National's airfield reconfiguration.