FAA Abandons Launch of Confusing New Clearances
The FAA last week abruptly put on hold its implementation of the new “climb-via” clearances soon before they were set to begin. The decision was based, said the agency in a short release, on the fact that neither pilots nor controllers were prepared for the new phraseology.
Climb-via substitutes the phraseology “climb-via” for specific speed and altitude restrictions in a departure. Whereas on “descend via” arrivals, which have been in use for some time without much trouble, in tests of the new “climb-via” clearances, pilots were busting their speeds and altitudes in large numbers.
The decision by the FAA shines light on the fact that it was prepared to launch on August 15th a new procedure that it had not adequately prepared pilots or controllers, it says, to start using. Until the NBAA, through its member alerts, shined the light of caution on the situation, it was not widely known that the new clearance was going to be implemented or that it was going to be a problem.
Instead, after the NBAA repeatedly warned its member pilots to be on their toes for the climb-via clearances and the possible pilot deviations that would result, the FAA uncharacteristically did an about face.
We’re not sure if the change of heart will result in truly effective education on the new clearance type or, better yet, abandonment of it altogether, but the fact that the FAA was willing at least to take a time out shows that the agency can indeed change its tack when it sees the rocks ahead, something that could not always have been said about it.
It also underscores the great work that NBAA does on bringing important issues to light to pilots, its member flight departments and the flying public in general.