FAA to change takeoff, landing rules

The FAA is poised to introduce a new rule for air traffic controllers that is designed to reduce the risk of collision, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The new rule will stagger the timing between takeoffs and landings allowing for more space and time between aircraft taking off on one runway and those arriving on another.

The rule change comes after an investigation of five near-miss incidents over the past several years with US air safety investigators at the NTSB judging that the current rules created hazardous situations and unnecessary risk of collisions because pilots were not necessarily given clear guidance when conducting go-around manoeuvres.

The NTSB issued the warning in July following the investigation of five incidents in which commercial jetliners came within ‘hazardous proximity’ of other aircraft while arriving or departing at major US airports.

A go-around – an aborted landing attempt by an aircraft on final approach – can be initiated at the direction of ATC or by the flight crew upon a determination that circumstances are unfavourable for a safe landing.

The safety hazard identified in the five incidents all occurred when an aircraft that was on approach to the airport aborted the landing attempt and initiated a go-around manoeuvre, which put the go-around aircraft on a flightpath that intersected with that of another aircraft that was either departing or arriving on another runway of the same airport.

According to the WSJ, under the new rule, ‘tower controllers will have to delay issuing takeoff clearances regardless of weather conditions to make sure landing aircraft have touched down or taxied away from any potential conflict’.

The initial rule change affects 16 airports, many of which have already implemented the changes. Others have until February or April to comply, and an additional set of airports will be subject to the revised rules in July. Among the airports currently covered under the new rule are JFK in New York, McCarran in Las Vegas, O’Hare in Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as the airports in Charlotte, Denver, Houston, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and “a handful of other locations.”

The complete safety recommendation letter to the FAA, which includes additional information about the incidents referenced above, is available at http://go.usa.gov/busC.

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

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