FAA suspends reverse runway operations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stopped its air traffic controllers reversing the flow of runway traffic after a recent miscommunication caused a loss of separation between three commuter aircraft near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The FAA wants a national standardised procedure to be put in place before controllers resume the practice of directing aircraft to take off and land against the usual direction.

The FAA made the change after a July 31 incident at Reagan National Airport involving three US Airways commuter flights which were directed to fly closer than the required 1,000 vertical feet and 3.5 lateral miles separation.

At the time of the incident, air traffic controllers had been changing the direction aircraft were landing and taking off at the airport due to bad weather developing to the airport’s south.

“In light of these preliminary findings, out of an abundance of caution, there are some immediate steps we are taking,” Grizzle wrote in a memo to Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Grizzle added that the FAA will ensure that in the future, managers are not distracted while handling complicated air traffic after it was discovered that those on duty at the regional control centre had been performing administrative tasks.

The FAA also said it will work with air traffic controllers union NATCA to provide additional resources, including more radar training. It said it expects to have new procedures in place within a month.


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