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FAA clarifies position on parallel glider operations
In the past several years, several US glider operations have been told by airport managers or local FAA officials that they could no longer conduct glider operations off grassy areas next to a paved runway as to do so would violate an FAA requirement that simultaneous operations on parallel runways must be separated laterally by at least 700 feet. Additionally, some glider operations have also been told that they could not stage gliders on a paved runway prior to takeoff as to do so would violate the "Obstacle Free Zone" rules. Thanks in large part to the efforts of SSA Government Liason Committee, the FAA has now issued a memorandum intended to clarify the applicable rules, which are common to many glider operations. The memo itself may be found by CLICKING HERE.
First, the memo makes clear that gliders may conduct take off and landing operations off grass strips parallel to a paved runway, so long as in doing so they do not impinge on the "obstacle free zone," which is a relatively small area intended to insure that aircraft operating on the main runway do not hit anything near the runway.
Second, the memo makes clear that when gliders and towplanes are using a main runway for flight operations, they may stage ("maneuvering") within the "Object Free Area" for takeoff.
We hope the memo will be of use to glider clubs and commercial operations that have found their operations threatened by a misinterpretation of the applicable FAA regulations. If you have questions about the memo or need assistance related to these issues, please contact the SSA.