NTSB: Use Caution On Wet Runways
The FAA's rulemaking process takes a long time, and NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker says airlines shouldn't wait for a rule to be finalized before they adopt more conservative stopping-distance estimates for contaminated runways. "We think airlines should voluntarily adopt the procedures contained in the FAA's OpSpec (operations specification) now, as we are entering another winter flying season," Rosenker said on Wednesday. The FAA's OpSpec recommends that crews should add a 15-percent safety factor and make other changes in the calculations. The FAA has recommended that airlines comply with the OpSpec now, but the changes won't be mandatory until a final rule is published. The OpSpec was prompted by the runway overrun by a Southwest Airlines 737 in December 2005. The aircraft landed at Chicago Midway Airport during a snowstorm, failed to stop on the runway, rolled through a blast fence and perimeter fence and came to rest on a roadway after striking two vehicles. A six-year-old boy in one of the automobiles was killed. The thrust reversers did not deploy until 18 seconds after touchdown. If the landing estimate had been calculated with that taken into account, the result would have shown the runway to be too short, the NTSB says.