NATA Wants Landing Distance Order Delayed
Fallout from a Southwest 737 accident in Chicago last winter continues. The National Air Transportation Association says the FAA is fudging the regulatory process and creating confusion and uncertainty with its new requirement that the operators of jet-powered aircraft do detailed stopping-distance calculations just before landing. It wants the agency to delay implementation of the orders for at least 60 days to deal with the concerns. In a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, NATA says the new requirements are being issued through "operation specifications" or "management specifications" instead of going through the formal rulemaking process, with its opportunity for public comment. "To impose such a specific and detailed new process on operators without following the mandates of the Administrative Procedures Act is unacceptable to the association," the letter says. What's worse, however, is the order doesn't take into consideration the conditions under which many of the operators covered by it must work. The order will require pilots to calculate stopping distances based on weather, temperature and runway conditions and then allow a 15-percent safety margin. Charter and air taxi operators often go into airports that don't have some of this information available. "The FAA policy notice does not provide clear guidance to operators and flight crews as to how to determine braking action under these circumstances and whether a landing is permissible given these facts," says the NATA news release.