In Light of Near Mid-Air Collisions
Posted: Feb 27, 2012 9:57 PM Updated: Feb 27, 2012 10:25 PM
By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- The FAA held a meeting on Monday night to brief pilots on the new safety procedures that they are putting into place. The FAA has spent the past several months devising what they think is a good solution to some of the safety concerns at the airport.
Last spring, there was a near mid-air collision at the airport, and just about eight months before that, a similar near mid-air collision also took place.
The FAA also says the population boom has brought with it a need to update the way planes come into and out of the airport.
Retired Air Traffic Controller Steve Bolin says a lot of young people have been thrown into air traffic control positions at the airport. Some, he suggests, may not be completely ready to take on such a huge responsibility.
“A lot of them don’t have as good of an understanding of what the air traffic system is and it takes them longer to certify and to get used to the flow and we’re having to start at ground zero [with them],” Bolin said.
Midland Air Traffic Manager Michael Harvey explains that since a lot of those air traffic controllers are new and have limited visibility up in the control tower, the FAA is shifting a lot of the responsibility over to the radar controllers instead.
“Previously what we were doing is we were handing everybody off to the tower for sequencing to the airport. The tower’s airspace is only [five or six] miles in circumference and that makes it very difficult for people in the tower to figure out who’s next on the runway. What we’ve done now is [we’ve made] the approach control, which is the responsible [party] to make these sequences, [the ones who will] do it,” Harvey said.
Changes will also be seen in the runway area, which will essentially be divided in half. One end will cater strictly to arrivals and the other end will cater only to departures. The FAA hopes it helps them avoid any problems.
The FAA reports the airport has had 16 airspace violations in the past year. They admit there’s some work to be done but they’re confident these safety changes will help.
The new changes will go into effect on Sunday, March 4th.
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