FAA bans foreign pilots from visual approaches at SFO

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reported to have advised all foreign airlines to use a GPS system instead of visual approaches when landing at San Francisco International Airport in the wake of the Asiana Airlines crash.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the FAA has issued a recommendation that the airlines use the GPS system when landing on main runways instead of relying on just their eyes and cockpit instruments.

Pilots on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 had been cleared to make a visual approach when the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft crash-landed on a runway at the San Francisco airport July 6. Three girls died, and 180 people were injured.

The FAA says that since then, pilots for Asiana and other foreign carriers have had more aborted landings than usual while trying to make visual approaches. The agency didn’t provide exact numbers.

Typically, pilots would use visual approaches if the weather was clear, or they would use an instrument system known as a glide slope indicator to help them land.

However, the glide slope indicator has been out of service since June 1 due to an expansion project and is not scheduled to be available again until August 22.

The GPS-based instrument system, known as RNAV, is an alternative, and the FAA decided to make the temporary change “out of an abundance of caution,” the agency said in a statement.

The Asiana Airlines crash is under investigation, and it’s unclear exactly how its pilots – who had been cleared for a visual approach – tried to land. Federal investigators said the plane was flying far too slowly when it crashed, with the pilots reporting that they believed they had engaged an automatic throttle.


Posted in Airlines, Airports, CAAs/ANSPs, News, Safety

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