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Southwest canceling more flights this morning

Pilots are training on new system to allow landings on cross-wind runway, spokesman says

Southwest Airlines canceled five flights into and out of Spokane this morning after visibility conditions dropped for use of the cross-wind runway at Spokane International Airport.

On Monday, the airport closed its main runway, which is equipped with landing systems for low visibility conditions, and switched traffic to its cross-wind secondary runway.

Southwest this week is completing installation of a new generation of landing guidance on its 500 Boeing 737 aircraft and training its 6,000 pilots for each approach at airports where the advanced system will be used, said Brad Hawkins, spokesman for Southwest.

Pilots will have to make six training approaches under clear conditions before they can employ the technology in low-visibility, Hawkins said. The training began today.

Without the system and training, the pilots are limited to making visual approach landings at Spokane’s now-active cross-wind runway. Under federal aviation rules, the visual landing requires six miles of visibility and a 1,500-foot cloud ceiling.

The airport is extending the main runway 2,000 feet on its southwest end in a $30 million project.