The FAA is rolling out a new rule for air traffic controllers that’s designed to reduce the risk of airplane collisions.
As the Wall Street Journal reports (paywalled, alas), the new rule staggers the timing between takeoffs and landings. With more space and time between planes taking off on one runway and planes arriving on another, the potential for mid-air disaster drops.
The rule change comes after an investigation of five near-miss incidents over the past several years. The NTSB found that the old rules created hazardous situations and unnecessary risk of collisions because pilots were not necessarily given clear guidance.
According to the WSJ, under the new rule, “tower controllers will have to delay issuing takeoff clearances regardless of weather conditions to make sure landing aircraft have touched down or taxied away from any potential conflict.”
The initial rule change affects 16 airports, many of which have already implemented the changes. Others have until February or April to comply, and an additional set of airports will be subject to the revised rules in July. Among the airports currently covered under the new rule are JFK in New York, McCarran in Las Vegas, O’Hare in Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as the airports in Charlotte, Denver, Houston, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and “a handful of other locations.”
Increased safety is a great thing. So is there a down side? Well, yes, a small one: the change in regulations could worsen delays at peak travel times or in inclement weather.
It’s true that if you’ve ever been told that your plane is 73rd in line for take-off at JFK on a rainy Friday night, the idea of adding even more delays may seem daunting. But compared to an in-air collision? Bring on the hours of tarmac-sitting.
FAA Sets New Rules at Busiest Airports [Wall Street Journal]