New FAA Rule: Bans traffic switching one week after near mid-air collision
One week after three U.S. Airways passenger planes nearly collided on July 31, 2012, over Washington's Reagan National Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a ban on traffic-switching.
The planes were only 12 seconds from impact when an air traffic controller at Reagan realized that the two outbound flights had mistakenly been cleared to head in the direction of the incoming flight. The planes each safely reached their final destinations.
According to an article on Reuters, FAA chief operating officer J. David Grizzle said in a memo that "The FAA believes the lack of standard protocol for opposite-direction operations contributed to the miscommunication." He added that until more effective procedures are developed and implemented, opposite direction operations at commercial airports will be suspended "out of an abundance of caution."
On Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, just hours after the announcement, former U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General and Motley Rice aviation attorney Mary Schiavo joined Washington, D.C.'s WTOP News Radio to comment on the recent ban.