Letter to Airmen Details Revised Aspen 'Wrap' Procedure

The Federal Aviation Administration recently published a Letter to Airmen (LTA) detailing recently revised procedures used at Colorado’s Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) to conduct opposite-direction operations. Used by the FAA to safely maximize arrival and departure rates while accounting for surrounding terrain, the “Westbound in front of” and "Wrap" (created to improve efficiency between arrivals and departures of aircraft) procedures result in 95 percent of departures taking off from Runway 33 and 90 percent of arrivals landing on Runway 15.

The procedures, in use for years, were reviewed by the FAA in late 2016 to ensure they met the agency's latest regulations and guidance. As part of the review, the FAA suspended the Wrap procedures in May. "As a result, the airport’s IFR arrival/departure rates were reduced by 40 percent," a July LTA explained. 

During the review, the FAA put together a safety panel of industry stakeholders to provide feedback. That collaboration led to a modified Wrap, which went into use in November. The revised procedures and new VFR departure have helped restore ASE’s arrival and departure rates to pre-Wrap-review levels.