From an Oct. 17 letter by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) to James Wilding, director of Metropolitan Washington Airports:
Without doubt, the availability of the additional 550 feet (which was added on to the original 200-foot safety overrun) contributed to the safe landing of the Eastern jetliner on Sept. 24 following an aborted takeoff at National.
We were fortunate in this instance that the 750-foot overrun was adequate for the Eastern pilot to safely stop the jetliner before reaching the Potomac River. I am concerned, however, about the potential for further runway incursions and would like your assistance in evaluating possible modifications to rectify existing hazards.
While I encourage you to consider all possible safety improvements at National, I want to emphasize that any procedural or physical modifications must be made in the name of safety only, and not for the purpose of bringing in a greater number of flights or larger type aircraft. . . .
In helping me to evaluate the current situation at National, I would like your comments . . . on the following:
* Should helicopters and other general aviation aircraft be restricted to departure paths that do not intersect active commercial runways?
* Are air traffic controllers adequately trained in handling the mix of general aviation and commercial traffic, especially at peak hours?
* Should any ATC procedures be changed to further reduce such incidents at National Airport?
I would also like your evaluation on the merits of extending the safety overrun on Runway 18-36 from its current 750-foot length to 1,000 feet as required by current standards. . . . Can this be accomplished at National?
I believe that we must provide a margin of safety for pilots who in emergency situations need to abort a takeoff. I do not believe that an airport can simply be "grandfathered" when the runway overrun is possibly substandard and could be a contributing factor in a future emergency. . . .