Federal Aviation Administration

Aspen Tower
0150 W. Airport Rd.
Aspen, CO 81611

Issued: 12/06/2022 2225 (UTC) Effective: 12/23/2022 1200 (UTC)
Aspen Tower Letter to Airmen: LTA-ASE-12

Subject: ASE Opposite Direction Operations

Cancellation: 12/23/2024 1200 (UTC)

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) possesses a unique and complex flight environment. The mountainous terrain surrounding the Airport requires arriving and departing aircraft to operate in opposite direction of each other. Over 90% of landing aircraft use Runway 15 and 95% of departing aircraft use Runway 33. 

The LINDZ9 Standard Instrument Departure (SID) combined with local air traffic procedures for Opposite Direction Operations (ODO) allow for the safe flow of traffic in and out of Aspen Airport. These procedures are locally known as the “Westbound in front of” and the “Wrap.” 

The “Westbound in front of” procedure utilizes standard IFR separation and will be used when there is adequate spacing on the final approach path to allow a Runway 33 departure to become airborne, climb through 9100’ MSL, and make the left turn to 273 degrees per the LINDZ9 SID prior to the arrival aircraft reaching a point 7 miles or more from Runway 15. Depending on the arrival aircraft speed and anticipated departure aircraft performance, the controller will issue a takeoff clearance and traffic information in time for the Runway 33 departure to start rolling prior to the Runway 15 arrival reaching a point approximately 15 miles from the airport. Flight crews should promptly depart, initiate a right turn to heading 343 per the LINDZ9 departure, climb through 9100’ and execute a prompt left turn to heading 273 degrees per the LINDZ9 SID in an expeditious manner to facilitate this air traffic separation procedure. Standard separation from other IFR aircraft will be ensured as soon as the departure aircraft crosses the final approach course, westbound on a 273 degree heading. It is essential that pilots of arriving aircraft remain on the extended centerline of Runway 15 or established on the I-ASE Localizer for Runway 15 unless instructed otherwise by ATC. This allows standard IFR separation to be provided to aircraft departing and arriving Aspen. Failure to comply with these procedures may result in ASE ATCT/TRACAB cancelling an aircraft’s approach clearance or issuing alternate instructions to prevent a loss of separation.

The “Wrap” procedure is used when a Runway 15 arrival aircraft is closer to the runway. Tower Applied Visual Separation will be utilized during this procedure, requiring Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) to be present. The Tower controller will issue a line-up-and-wait clearance (LUAW) to the departure aircraft for Runway 33, then issue a takeoff clearance and traffic information in time for the departure aircraft to begin their takeoff roll prior to the opposite direction arrival reaching a point 5 miles from Runway 15. Once airborne, the departing aircraft immediately turns right to a 343 heading per the LINDZ9 SID, offsetting east of the arriving aircraft’s final approach path. When properly timed and executed, the arriving and departing aircraft will safely pass approximately 1-2 miles north of the Runway. Flight crews should comply promptly with LUAW instructions and be prepared for an immediate departure once cleared for takeoff. Once airborne, crews should make an immediate right turn to heading 343 degrees per the LINDZ9 SID. Absent amended instructions from ATC, the westbound turn to a 273 heading should begin promptly climbing through 9100’ MSL per the LINDZ9 SID. In the event that the 343 degree heading needs extended for air traffic separation, ATC will instruct the aircraft to “FLY HEADING 343, VECTOR FOR TRAFFIC, EXPECT TO RESUME THE LINDZ9 DEPARTURE.” Flight crews should comply with these amended instructions and continue climbing on heading 343 to the assigned altitude. Once clear of traffic, ATC will issue “TURN LEFT HEADING 273, RESUME THE LINDZ9 DEPARTURE” prior to the departing aircraft reaching a point 3.05 miles north of Runway 33 Departure End of Runway (DER), approximately 9.4 DME from DBL VOR. Flight crews that do not receive the 273 degree heading prior to reaching that point should query ATC.

Kyle Gelroth
Air Traffic Manager, Aspen Tower