The FAA's new "land and hold short operations" (LAHSO) order will have no significant effect on general aviation, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Most GA pilots will see no change in airport or landing operations.
"AOPA fought to ensure general aviation was not penalized as LAHSO procedures were debated," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The important principle of sequencing air traffic on a 'first come, first served' at towered airports has been preserved."
LAHSO primarily increases airline capacity at airports with intersecting runways. A controller can clear an aircraft to land and stop before an intersecting runway (or other pre-determined point). That allows the controller to release another aircraft to take off or land on the intersecting runway.
The procedure has been used since 1968. However, some airline pilot unions objected when the FAA proposed changes earlier this year, claiming the changes would increase the risk of collision.
The unions questioned the FAA's rejected landing procedures and whether all pilots were adequately trained to conduct LAHSO operations. Some airline pilots started refusing LAHSO clearances at busy hub airports, contributing to airline delays.
To resolve that dispute, the FAA issued a new LAHSO procedure July 14 to take effect August 14.
Under the new LAHSO order, air traffic controllers can direct two airliners, with crews trained in LAHSO procedures, to land on intersecting runways.
Procedures for general aviation aircraft remain unchanged. Controllers can direct two GA aircraft to land and hold short just as they have in the past. GA pilots aren't required to have any additional training for such GA/GA LAHSO operations. However, a GA pilot can and should refuse a LAHSO instruction if there is any doubt that the operation can be accomplished safely.
Solo student pilots are prohibited from LAHSO operations.
Controllers cannot direct "mixed traffic" (a GA aircraft and an airliner, for instance) to land and hold short on intersecting runways. Such mixed LAHSO operations will only be permitted after "adequate pilot training on these procedures is accomplished."
(The FAA will now start developing training requirements for mixed air carrier/general aviation LAHSO operations. AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation will be working with the FAA on defining "adequate training." However, even without that additional training, GA pilots will retain full access to all public-use airports.)
"In the real world, this has practically no impact on general aviation pilots," said Boyer.
That's because most of the airports where LAHSO is at issue are large airline hub airports, such as Chicago O'Hare or Boston Logan International. These airports have very little piston-engine general aviation traffic.
There will be little practical effect from the new LAHSO order at predominately general aviation airports, either. Controllers at airports such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will continue to direct GA pilots to land and hold short, just as they have in the past.
What will change at airports such as Lancaster is that the tower won't direct a GA aircraft to land and hold short when the occasional commuter airliner is cleared for the intersecting runway.
"But general aviation pilots won't be delayed for that," said Boyer.
The FAA's new order specifically states that "adherence to the current policy of sequencing traffic on a first-come, first-served basis shall prevail."
"But let's recognize that ATC occasionally might need to sequence an airliner ahead of a GA aircraft," said Boyer. "Let's work together to make the system more efficient for everyone and not complain about an insignificant delay."
The FAA's "Land and Hold Short Operations" Order 7110.118 is available on AOPA's Web site.
The 360,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members.
July 18, 2000