FAA to Review Hazards in Airspace Near Airport Runways

By Paul Riegler on 28 April 2014
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An American Airlines jet taking off at LAX

An American Airlines jet taking off at LAX

U.S. regulators announced plans to examine possible hazards in the airspace near busy runways that could interfere with the safe operation of aircraft in the event of engine failure during takeoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday in the Federal Register that it is planning a major shift in policy that would “protect airspace for emergency operations when an aircraft engine fails during departure.”

Aircraft experiencing engine problems might not climb at the normal rate and, as a result, would require a more obstacle-free airspace.  Structures near an airport could pose a safety risk.

The new policy calls for a thorough review of the height and location of construction projects near busy airports to identify new buildings or other obstacles such as radio towers that could interfere with the airspace needed for emergency operations in what are called OEI or one engine inoperative procedures.

Navigable airspace “is being encroached around the country with the net effect of decreasing access for aviation operations,” according to the document published Friday, “Proposal to Consider the Impact of One Engine Inoperative Procedures in Obstruction Evaluation Aeronautical Studies.”  The document makes mention of “structures as diverse as microwave towers to office buildings and wind turbines” which are being erected near many airports.

The document says that the FAA “must consider the impact of the structures on the safe operation of flight and their impact on the safe, efficient use and preservation of the navigable airspace and airport capacity and efficiency.”  It also sets forth procedures for airlines, airport operators, and developers to jointly design a single alternate flight path for each runway in cases of OEI.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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