FAA requires new procedures for ATC around presidential transport

Washington DC
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The US FAA has issued new procedures for air traffic controllers handling presidential, vice presidential and flights carrying the First Lady.

The action comes in the wake of an 18 April incident in which First Lady Michelle Obama's Boeing 737 (called Executive One Foxtrot) had been vectored to an approach on Runway 19L at the Andrews Air Force Base behind a C-17 military transport.

According to a update report provided by the US NTSB on 22 April, controllers at the Potomac consolidated air traffic control facility sequenced Obama's 737 behind the C-17 in visual flight rules weather that evening, but with separation of 3.08mi rather than the required 5mi separation. The spacing is designed to prevent wake turbulence upsets behind "heavy" aircraft like the C-17.

NTSB says the Potomac controller advised the pilot of the 737 that he was 4mi in trail of the C-17, cautioned him about wake turbulence, cleared him for the instrument landing system approach and instructed him to contact the Andrews tower.

"As soon as EXEC1F contacted the tower, the tower controller asked EXEC1F to make 'S' turns on final to get additional spacing," says the NTSB. "The pilot of EXEC1F did comply with the request, however, the spacing had continued to deteriorate to 2.94mi. The tower controller then instructed EXEC1F to 'go around' because the spacing was not adequate for landing."

New instructions for controllers, issued on 22 April, require controllers in sectors handling the presidential flights to "aurally and visually monitor these flights to ensure separation, control, and coordination are accomplished," says the FAA.