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Wed, Aug 08, 2012

FAA Suspends Opposite Direction Operations At Commercial Airports

Move The Result Of Near-Collision Near Washington, DC

The near-collision which happened when airplanes departing from and landing at KDCA in Washington, DC last week were inadevertently placed on a collision course has prompted the FAA to temporarily suspend opposite direction operations at commercial airports pending the development of new procedures. The announcement came in a memo to Acting Administrator Michael Huerta (pictured) sent Tuesday by Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle.

In the memo, Grizzle said that there is no standard protocol in place specifically for opposite direction operations, which it is believed contributed to the miscommunication between TRACON and the Tower at DCA.

"We expect to have these detailed procedures in place across the system within a month, and sooner than that at locations that have frequent demand for opposite direction operations," Grizzle said in the memo. "In the interim, we will only use this type of operation in an emergency situation. While we are training on these new procedures, we will also reinforce the necessity for diligently following existing protocols when we turn the direction of an airport."

Grizzle said the FAA is working with NATCA to determine what kind of training will be needed to facilitate the new procedures. He said the incident also raised the issue that "front line managers (FLM) are not only overseeing operations in the tower, but also managing administrative tasks. During times of moderate to heavy and/or complex traffic, we need to be sure that they are solely focused on the operations in the facility, and not the handling of administrative duties at that time."

The FAA is coordinating with the NTSB in an investigation of the incident.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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