Nearly 300 times.
That’s how many near aircraft collisions have happened in the United States in the last 12 months, according to the New York Times.
Airline travel has long been considered one of the safest forms of travel. As statistician Arnold Barnett told ABC News: “If you take one flight a day, you would on average need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash.”
But this safety record masks a worrisome trend.
In July, a Southwest Airlines pilot avoided a collision by seconds. Nine days later, multiple jet planes in San Francisco were reported as nearly “skin to skin.” That month alone, there were at least 46 close calls with commercial airlines.
Said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of transportation, at last March’s Federal Aviation Association (FAA) Summit: “We can’t wait for the next catastrophic event to seek the warning signs of today, fully determine the contributing factors, and swiftly address them.”
Graduate students from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering are doing just that.
Vivian Lin, Andrew Bruneel and Tiffany Hoi Ching Wong first heard about the Federal Aviation Association’s (FAA) Data Challenge one year ago, as part of their Applied Data Science master’s program. Lin had been notified by Yolanda Gil, USC Viterbi research professor of computer science, who, in addition to serving as USC Viterbi’s director of new initiatives in AI and data science, had helped draft the nation’s AI…