Federally insured savings and loan associations in the metropolitan Washington area experienced operating losses of $47.7 million during the last six months of 1982, according to reports released last week by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

It marked the fourth consecutive half-yearly loss for these savings institutions. Nevertheless, the loss was smaller than the record $73.6 million loss suffered in the first half of last year.

On the national scene, federally insured S&Ls had operating losses of $994 million, compared with $3.3 billion in the previous half. In fact, lower interest rates actually turned the fourth quarter positive, but the gain was not enough to offset earlier losses.

Despite the bad news, federal insurance covers deposits up to $100,000 of savings, so small savers need not be concerned about the safety of their funds.

The 102 S&Ls insured by Maryland Savings-Share Insurance Corp., on the other hand, showed a $20 million gain in the second half of 1982, versus a $3 million loss during the first two quarters.

Although net income figures are issued only semiannually, three-month changes in net worth--another indication of profitability--show that S&Ls were solidly back in the black at the start of this year. Net worth of the country's S&Ls during the first quarter increased by 2.6 percent to $26 billion.

Locally, the federally insured associations bolstered their net worth by 1.7 percent to $370.7 million. The MSSIC savings and loans' net worth went up by 18.7 percent. They earned as much in the first three months, $20 million, as during the entire last half of 1982.

In that period, the Bank Board reported, metropolitan S&Ls lost $2.38 for every $100 of assets, compared with a loss of 29 cents nationally. The ratio of net worth to total deposits declined again to 4.61 percent nationwide, 4.69 percent locally and 4.27 percent in Maryland. This is a measure of an S&L's reserves or net worth to its total deposits. (The numbers differ slightly from those shown on the accompanying chart due to the different sample used.)

Of the 35 federally insured S&Ls, just eight showed operating gains during the last half of 1982, compared with seven out of 39 in the first half. Mergers during the period account for the lower total number.

Assets and deposits rose modestly at federally insured S&Ls, while the MSSIC associations chalked up gains of 27 and 24 percent respectively.

Virginia S&Ls showed mixed results in the second half of 1982.

McLean Savings & Loan reported a net worth gain of more than 22 percent, while Family Savings & Loan of Virginia dropped to negative net worth. Family's chief financial officer Kurt Lewin declined to comment about Family's plans.

Robert Rushe, vice president for McLean, attributes the S&L's profitable record to "good management, good control and good philosophy. We're innovators. We were one of the first S&Ls to get into variable-rate mortgages."

McLean "looks at the margins instead of lending just to lend. We won't lend 30-year money, even today," he said.

The largest profit in dollar terms was reported by Washington Federal Savings & Loan. Washington Federal acquired Jefferson Savings & Loan Association and its $3 million in net worth last fall. Carroll Amos, chief financial officer for Washington, says the profit was due to a drop in interest rates combined with sales of both Jefferson and Washington loans.

The largest loss, $10.3 million, was racked up by another D.C. association, National Permanent Federal Savings & Loan, which became National Permanent Savings Bank F.A. in February. National Permanent's executive vice president, Clayton Keel, blamed high interest rates for the thrift's loss in the second half of last year, but says it has done much better this year.

"We've turned the corner. At the end of the first six months, May 31, we had a net income of $15 million," Keel said.

Apart from tiny OBA Federal Savings & Loan in the District, which has always had an exceptionally high reserve ratio, the best ratio belonged to Prince George's Savings & Loan. Among the larger institutions, Perpetual-American Federal Savings & Loan and Interstate Federal Savings & Loan had the most cushion or highest reserve ratio.

Almost a third of the S&Ls, 11, finished the year with reserve ratios below the statutory minimum of 3 percent. Four of these are below 1 percent, the point at which survival becomes questionable.

Capital City Federal Savings & Loan Association, whose reserve ratio fell to one hundredth of 1 percent in the second half of 1982, "has reached an agreement with a private investor and he's going to acquire Capital City," said Kenneth Plant, Capital City president. Capital City's situation has improved significantly during the first six months of this year, Plant said. He would give no details on when the acquisition would take place, with whom or for what price.

Last fall, Congress passed legislation to enable still-viable S&Ls with unacceptably low reserve ratios to shore up their net worth through a system of government promissory notes. Thus far, only Northern Virginia Savings & Loan has benefitted from this form of cashless federal bailout.

MSSIC is not allowed by Maryland law to divulge individual results for the S&Ls it insures.