Airport International News - August 2012
FAA Bans Aircraft Opposite Direction Take-Off and Landing
Posted by Victoria Knowles - Airport International Reporter on 08/08/2012 - 04:20:00
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has temporarily banned aircraft flying in opposite directions when landing or taking off, after a near miss at Ronald Reagan National Airport.
The FAA is often quick to act, but the prohibition on two-way traffic is unlikely to have prevented the occurrence if it were in place a week ago.
The incident happened last Tuesday at approximately 2pm in the Washington-based airport, when two passenger planes were sent tearing towards each other at a combined speed of 436 miles an hour, after there was miss communication between the control tower and radar control facility.
Opposite Direction Take-Off and Landing
Between them, the aircraft were carrying 192 passengers and crew. David Grizzle, chief operating officer of the FAA wrote in a memo to the administrator of the company Michael P. Huerta, “this incident should not have happened.”
The event occurred after aircraft were instructed by the air traffic control center in Warrenton to approach from the north rather than the south, due to storm-driven winds. A Federal official said, “The tower agreed, but they didn’t pass it on to all the people they needed to pass it on to.”
One tower controller was not informed of the change, and proceeded to send two outbound planes north.Realizing the danger, the controller ordered the pilot to make a right turn and abort his approach. By this point, the two planes were only 12 seconds apart.
Ronald Reagan Airport Near Miss
In carrying out his maneuver, the pilot came close to the third plane, with only 800ft of altitude between them, when aircraft are required to maintain 1000ft of division.
“This incident also raised the issue that front line managers are not only overseeing operations in the tower, but also managing administrative tasks,” said Grizzle. “During times of moderate to heavy and/or complex traffic, we need to be sure that they are solely focused on operations at the facility.”
The FAA has recorded 1,234 operative faults in 2009, and 1,887 in 2010, despite a reduction in flights of a million that year. Most involved planes flying to close to each other, though there was little risk to passengers.
Todd Lehmacher, Us Airways spokesman said the airline is, "currently investigating and working with the FAA to determine what occurred."
Image Copyright Mariordo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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