Pilots and controllers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Memphis International (MEM) and Houston Intercontinental (HOU) may soon take part in operational testing of a new reduced-separation standard between aircraft departing on parallel runways during crosswind conditions. For the wake turbulence mitigation for departures (WTMD) procedure one of the aircraft must weigh more than 300,000 pounds (categorized as “heavy”) and weather conditions must remain at least basic VFR with a 1,000-foot ceiling and three statute miles visibility.
WTMD entails the crosswind-enabled elimination of wake turbulence separation minimums when a “heavy” aircraft (e.g. a Boeing 767) departs the downwind runway and any aircraft follows departing the upwind runway.
The new procedures resulted from research data derived from FAA trials on closely spaced parallel runways. The three U.S. airports will participate in the test for one year, with an option to extend. Pilots will always have the option to request additional separation if they deem it necessary.
Testing begins as follows (all times local): at SFO on May 15 at 6 a.m., at Houston at 6 a.m. on May 20, and at Memphis at 6 a.m. on August 5.