The FAA has issued an interim notice that suspends opposite direction operations involving IFR aircraft at Part 139 airports – those that serve scheduled commercial traffic with more than nine passenger seats or unscheduled carriers with at least 31 seats.
The notice is a result of “several losses of separation,” such as the most recent one at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA), where one arriving and two departing regional jets were involved in an event that compromised the required safety margins for aircraft separation. Additionally, the notice states that numerous ATSAP (Air Traffic Safety Action Program) reports filed by air traffic controllers indicate that opposite direction operations have contributed to other close calls.
While the suspension is in effect, opposite direction operations will still be permitted in emergency situations. Also, facilities that require these types of operations can establish special written procedures. Such procedures must be approved by the office of Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Safety and Technical Training before they can be put into effect.
The notice is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notification, though it indicates a cancellation date of August 6 next year.