Washington National Restrictions

From:         Leon Shieh <lls2n@holmes.acc.virginia.edu>
Organization: University of Virginia
Date:         11 Aug 93 02:48:37 PDT
References:   1 2 3 4
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In article <airliners.1993.552@ohare.chicago.com>,
Philip M. Chuang <pmc@merit.edu> wrote:
>>There's another market for the BAe 146 (soon to be the BAe RJ).  That's
>>service to small downtown airports, based on it's short take off and
>>landing capability.  London City Airport and Stockholm Bromma come to
>>mind.  I think it's also capable of using Miegs Field (Chicago) and
>>Lakefront (Cleveland) but other (non-flight) regulations prohibit this
>>at the moment (anyone know the details about this).
>>
>    Washington National would also be ideal for the 146, especially for
>    the late-night New York Shuttles.  Unfortunately, an official at
>    National told me a month a ago that they "actively frawn upon"
>    allowing operations of 4-engined jets or wide-bodies into the airport.
>    They believe that the local (highly expensive) communities will
>    have the impression that National Airport would use it as the beginning
>    of the slippery-slope toward allowing 747's to land there!
> 
>    This not only explains why the 146 does not land at National, but
>    also why no 767's or A300/A310's land there.  Interestingly enough,
>    there are only two jetliners that can land at  National during
>    the night curfew--The Fokker F100 and the 757, but the Pratt & Whitney
>    powered model only.

Last April Business Express (Delta's commuter) asked the FAA to
allow jets with up to 80 seats to be operated into National using
commuter slots so they could use 146's.  Currently, commuter
slots may be used by jets and turboprops with up to 56 seats. 
They cited the recently permitted use of 110-seat aircraft into
Chicago/O'Hare in a certain number of commuter slots as a
precedent.  The anti-noise groups opposed it saying that the
current allowed 37 jet operations per hour would be exceeded.  I
believe this indicates that 146's are allowed into National, but
would require jet slots.  Jet slots are extremely scarce and have
been sold for $1 million each and would probably be too
costly/difficult for Business Express to obtain.

As I understand it, the main runway at National is too short
(6800 feet) for 747's to operate there.  No wide-body jet is
permitted to land there.  Eastern tried to get the A-300 allowed
into National in the early 80s, but the FAA Administrator ruled
that it would not be safe under all conditions due to the short
runway and the curved approach when landing from the north. 
There was another instance where Airbus asked to have the A310
allowed into National, which I suppose was not approved either
since I've never heard of one landing at National.

As far as I know, no wide-body jet has ever been allowed into
National, although I don't think any other airlines asked the FAA
for approval for other types of wide-bodies.  A couple months ago
The Washington Post reported that when the new main terminal is
completed that 767s may be allowed to operate into National.  The
anti-noise groups opposed the proposal, as they opposed earlier
proposals for wide-body service.

The night curfew is actually a night-time restriction which only
allows aircraft operating at 72 db or below on take-off and 85 db
or below on landing to operate between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.  It was
called a jet curfew when it was first enforced in 1981 since no
large jets could meet the restriction, but American had the MD-80
recorded as landing at 83.9 db and started the first night-time
jet landings under the restriction in 1983.  There was a fight in
1988 to have all night-time jets banned but the restriction was
not changed.

The 757s which are allowed during the restricted hours are ones
with Rolls-Royce engines.  Those aircraft are quiet enough to
both land and take-off during the restricted hours.  American in
the past has scheduled 6:10 a.m. 757 departures (with Rolls-Royce
engines) to Dallas/Ft. Worth along with late-night arrivals from
Chicago and Dallas/Ft. Worth.  One article I saw in the Post said
that the 757s have "special engines and were re-certified with a
payload penalty" to be allowed to operate into National.  Does
anyone else have any more information on that?  I haven't heard
about any 757s with Pratt and Whitney engines being allowed;
United, Delta, and Northwest have those and haven't scheduled any
night time operations with them.

United doesn't have any night-time operations scheduled at all,
the only major airline without any.  I suspect that as soon as
they get A320s (another aircraft quiet enough to meet the landing
restriction and currently used by Northwest for night-time
operations) later this year they'll schedule a Chicago-National
flight arriving around 11 p.m. to connect with their last large
bank of flights from the west coast.

Personally, I'm glad there are late-night flights into National.
I live under the flight path, but I'm 15 miles or so upriver so
it's not too much of a nuisance.  The aircraft meeting the noise
restriction aren't that loud on landing anyways, although some
people obviously are still bothered by them.  The flights are
convenient, especially when travelling from the west coast.  Many
airlines have flights originating on the west coast between 1 and
2 p.m. pacific time, connecting somewhere, and arriving National
around 11 p.m.-midnight.  One exception which sticks out like a
sore thumb is United, on which if you want to leave after noon
from most west-coast cities, you can only fly into Dulles.  For
instance, from my timetables from June, the last United flight
from Seattle-National left Seattle at about 10 a.m., stopped in
Chicago, and arrived into National at about 7 p.m.  In contrast,
the last American flight left Seattle at about 3:30 p.m.,
connected in Chicago, and arrived into National at 12:34 a.m.

Leon Shieh
leon@virginia.edu