LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Federal
aviation regulators, reacting to a December 2005 accident in which a Southwest
Airlines Co. jet skidded off the end of a snowy Chicago runway, have issued new
landing policies aimed at preventing such accidents.
Two weeks before a
scheduled public hearing about the accident, the Federal Aviation Administration
has called for more stringent and uniform pilot calculations to ensure an adequate
safety margin when landing jetliners on snowy or slippery runways. The FAA wants
at least a 15 percent safety margin when computing landing distances in such adverse
The document released earlier this week says an agency
investigation prompted by the Boeing Co. 737 accident found that about half of
carriers lacked clear policies "for assessing whether sufficient
landing distance" is available when operating on wet or snowy runways. The
FAA says it also found that airlines use "inconsistent" safety margins
when computing landing distances in such circumstances, including some calculations
conflicting with data provided by aircraft manufacturers.
hearing by the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to be critical
of both the FAA and Southwest. Issues expected to be raised at the hearing include
inadequate runway-condition reports often transmitted to pilots, lack of uniform
standards in determining safe runway-braking distances and confusion about pilot
procedures to account for slippery strips. The 2005 accident killed a six-year-old
boy in a car that was struck as the Southwest plane skidded off the end of a runway
at Chicago's Midway Airport in the middle of a snow storm.
have broad impact on airlines because they call for using "the most adverse
expected conditions" when assessing required stopping distances, and then
requiring a 15 percent safety margin before a landing is attempted. By October,
according to the FAA policy document, the agency will put out specific operating
and training requirements.
Under the new procedures, dispatchers will be
required to have specific instruction in landing distances required in adverse
weather conditions. And pilots will be required to become familiar with such factors
as part of their routine flight training.