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FAA puts more restrictions on foreign jets at SFO

  • July 31, 2013 - 12:45 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. aviation officials are no longer allowing foreign airlines to land alongside another plane when touching down at San Francisco International Airport in the wake of the deadly Asiana Airlines crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Tuesday it implemented the change "to minimize distractions during a critical phase of flight."

In the past, two planes could approach SFO's main parallel runways at the same time in clear weather. Domestic carriers can still do that, but air traffic controllers are now staggering the arrivals of foreign carriers.

The shift away from side-by-side landing came Sunday, on the same day the FAA started advising foreign airlines to use a GPS system instead of visual reckonings when landing at SFO. The agency said it had noticed an increase in aborted landings by some foreign carriers flying visual approaches.

Pilots on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 had been cleared to make a visual approach when the plane crash-landed July 6. Three Chinese teenagers died, and 180 people were injured among the 307 aboard.

The plane from China and South Korea came in too low and too slow, slamming its landing gear into a seawall well before the actual runway.

Seconds before the accident, the pilots called for a go-around, meaning they wanted to abort the landing and circle for another approach. The FAA said such maneuvers are "routine, standardized procedures that can occur once a day or more at busy airports for various reasons."

Two weeks after the crash, another Asiana flight aborted its landing, San Francisco airport officials said. In addition, they said a Taiwanese EVA Air flight approached too low last week, then aborted and began another approach.

The FAA said it hasn't seen any significant delays as a result of the move away from side-by-side approaches.

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