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U.S. adopts new standards to assess runway conditions during inclement weather
19 July 2016
The Southwest 737 runway excursion accident at Chicago-Midway in 2005 (NTSB)

The Southwest 737 runway excursion accident at Chicago-Midway in 2005 (NTSB)

In order to reduce the risk of runway overrun accidents and incidents due to runway contamination caused by weather and other factors, the U.S. aviation community will start using new standards to assesses runway conditions during inclement weather.

The FAA developed the standards based on the work of the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which was formed after the December 2005 overrun accident at Chicago Midway Airport.  In that accident, Southwest Flight 1248 ran off the end of the runway and into a city street after landing during a snowstorm.

These standards will be used by U.S. airports, airline flight crews, dispatchers, general aviation pilots, and air traffic controllers, starting October 1, 2016, to communicate actual runway conditions to the pilots in terms that directly relate to the way a particular aircraft is expected to perform.

Airport operators will use the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) to categorize runway conditions and pilots will use it to interpret reported runway conditions. The RCAM is presented in a standardized format, based on airplane performance data supplied by airplane manufacturers, for each of the stated contaminant types and depths. The RCAM replaces subjective judgments of runway conditions with objective assessments tied directly to contaminant type and depth categories.