Charter Operators Bristle At Proposed FAA Requirement
The effects of the Southwest
Airlines fatal accident at Chicago's Midway Airport are being felt
across the industry -- much to the chagrin of charter operators
nationwide. By October 1st, all flights must be able to stop on the
runway with a 15-percent margin by calculating landing distance "as
close to the time of arrival as practicable, taking into account
workload considerations during critical phases of flight." So
sayeth the FAA. Ironically, some charter operators say that could
adversely affect aviation safety. Specifically... charter operators
worry that they'll be expected to calculate landing distances even
as they're on approach.
"The descent and approach part of a flight is when you have the
most to do," Scott Malone, chief pilot for Malone AirCharter Inc.
at Craig Municipal Airport tells the Jacksonville Business Journal.
"Now they're adding additional workload to it."
Jackie Rosser at NATA agrees. "It's feasible that your workload
could prohibit you from doing this calculation," she says. "But the
FAA could say you could have done it, and it would be very hard for
crews to defend themselves after the fact. It could turn out to be
a regulatory trap."
The December 8th accident at Midway killed a young boy who was
riding in a car near the airport when a Southwest Airlines 737-700
skidded off the end of a snow-covered runway and into traffic along
a busy Chicago street.
NATA says the resulting regulation "clarification" that says air
crews need to establish a 15-percent margin when landing doesn't
take into account charter operations. Those objections seemed to
have an effect. The FAA extended until yesterday the comment period
on the "clarification." How that affects the final ruling... we'll
have to wait and see.