One XNA Runway Reopens After FAA Problem Causes Arrival Diversions

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HIGHFILL (KFSM) — One of the runways at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport reopened around 1 a.m. after arriving flights had to be diverted for several hours because of an FAA problem, according to Director Kelly Johnson.

Johnson said the FAA briefly cancelled the airport’s instrument approach certifications, which means most planes were not be able to land at the airport. Johnson said she does not know why the FAA cancelled the certifications. Planes were able to depart, Johnson said.

In order to land using visual flight rules, most airlines require the cloud ceiling at XNA to be at least 3,500 feet and the viability to be at least three miles. Currently, the ceiling at XNA is at about 1,600 feet with three miles of visibility, which means planes have to land using instrument approach, Johnson said.

So far, four flights to XNA have been diverted according to the arrivals schedule on the airport’s website:

  • American Airlines flight 3708 from Dallas-DFW was diverted to Fort Smith Airport
  • Delta Airlines flight 5467 from Atlanta was diverted to Springfield Airport
  • United Airlines flight 4179 from Chicago was diverted to Tulsa Airport
  • United Airlines flight 3436 from New York/Newark was diverted to Oklahoma City Airport
  • American Airlines flight 3599 from Dallas-DFW was cancelled
  • Delta Airlines flight 4768 from Atlanta was diverted to Tulsa Airport
  • American Airlines flight 3263 from Chicago was diverted to Tulsa Airport
  • United Airlines flight 5542 from Denver was cancelled
  • American Airlines flight 5193 from Charlotte was cancelled
  • American Airlines flight 3403 from Dallas-DFW was cancelled.

According to FlightPlan.com, which is used by pilots to file flight plans and check weather, XNA’s instrument approach procedures were cancelled this morning around 7 a.m. The information states the procedures will be cancelled until August 2017 because of a problem with navigation aides.

The FAA released the following statement: “Recent improvements on the airfield at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport require a flight check to ensure all navigational aids are working correctly. The FAA plans to complete the needed flight check as soon as possible. We recommend all passengers contact their airlines for the latest flight information.”

An FAA communications representative told 5NEWS all pilots are notified about the change in landing authorization and usually airports are notified, but it depends on the timing. Johnson said she was not notified about the FAA unauthorizing the airport’s instrument approach.

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