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Near Miss at LAX

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Near Miss at LAX

Old 12th May 2007, 15:01
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Near Miss at LAX

If accurate (the news story), this was a very lucky avoidance of a serious incident.

From the Los Angeles Times
FAA probes new close call at LAX
Officials investigate an incident in which a landing aircraft nearly hit a plane that made a wrong turn on a taxiway Sunday.

By Jennifer Oldham
Times Staff Writer
Published May 12, 2007

A jumbo jet barreling down a runway at up to 100 mph at Los Angeles International Airport came as close as 50 feet to a turboprop on a nearby taxiway, officials said, in the latest such incident to point up safety concerns with the airfield's layout.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Flight 23 sped by while SkyWest Airlines Flight 1006 breached a safety zone that separates the outer runway on the airport's north side from a taxiway leading toward the terminals.

The incident at 6:35 p.m. Sunday occurred after a SkyWest pilot made a wrong turn during the evening rush hour, officials said Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration preliminarily determined that the two arriving aircraft may have come within 50 feet of each other but emphasized that it was still investigating the incident.

However, a computer-assisted reconstruction of the incident developed by airport officials shows the larger jet's wing may have come as close as 21 feet to the smaller aircraft.

The Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600 was arriving from London's Heathrow Airport with 172 passengers and crew on board. A spokeswoman for the airline emphasized that the pilot "felt at no time that the safety of the passengers was in question."

A SkyWest spokeswoman said the airline was working with the FAA to determine if its pilot was at fault.

The incident is likely to be categorized as the most serious at LAX since Sept. 30, when two aircraft came so close to colliding on a runway that one rattled pilot could be heard hyperventilating on air traffic control tapes. Sunday's incident was the third such close call between aircraft on the ground at LAX this year.

Two of this year's close calls, Sunday's and one on Feb. 24, underscore long-standing safety issues with the airport's configuration. The unusual layout, which features two sets of parallel runways, requires pilots who land on an outer runway to use a series of taxiways to cross an inner runway.

Airport officials are spending $330 million to rework the two parallel runways on the airport's south side. After moving one 55 feet farther from the other, officials reopened the southernmost runway last month and began construction of a 1.8-mile-long taxiway between the two runways. When the project is finished next summer, pilots will stop on the taxiway after landing to await clearance to cross the inner runway.

The city's airport agency would like to install a similar center taxiway between the runways on the airport's north side. To do so, they are proposing pushing the outer runway closer to Westchester, a move that's opposed by airport neighbors and local and federal lawmakers who represent area residents.

Sunday's incident led agency officials to reiterate their position that the north airfield must be reconfigured to prevent close calls between aircraft.

"We got lucky again," said Paul Haney, deputy executive director of airports and security for Los Angeles World Airports. "It doesn't happen often, but when it does, the potential consequences are catastrophic."

The close call occurred after the SkyWest Embraer Brasilia landed on the outer runway and was instructed by an air traffic controller to turn left onto a taxiway. The Virgin Atlantic jet was in the air three miles behind the turboprop and closing fast. But stiff winds gusting to 33 mph slowed the smaller plane, which was arriving on a repositioning flight from Redding with only the two pilots aboard.

"SkyWest 1006, keep it rolling, please," the frustrated controller can be heard on air traffic control tapes, urging the pilot along. "Turn left off the runway."

"We're turning left," the SkyWest pilot replied.

Seconds later, the controller watched the pilot turn onto the wrong taxiway and stated the mistake on the radio, but did not ask him to turn around. The taxiways, known as Zulu and Yankee, are linked together off the outer runway in a wishbone configuration. The pilot made a hairpin turn onto Yankee although he had been instructed by the controller to use Zulu.

After the controller stated that the plane was on the wrong taxiway, the pilot spun the aircraft around and taxied back toward the runway, leading the controller to tell him to "stop right there."

A second controller yelled "Go around! Go around!" to the Virgin Atlantic jet, just as an audible alarm went off on a collision avoidance system in the control tower. But it was too late to abort the landing, officials said.

The controller then told the SkyWest pilot to make a sharp left turn onto Zulu, where he was originally instructed to go, and he did, officials said.

The turboprop was driving out of the safety zone that separates the taxiway from the runway as the Virgin jet sped by. It's likely that the Virgin jet's long wing was hanging several dozen feet into the safety zone, officials said.

"If there's a mitigating circumstance here," said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman, "it's that SkyWest was rolling away from the runway rather than getting closer."
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Old 12th May 2007, 17:58
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I suspect there may be a large element of hyperbole in the report, especially the part about it being too late for the Virgin to go around, however if the general gist of it is true then I think the Skywest crew could almost have been nominees for this years Darwin awards for doing a u-turn and taxying back onto an active runway without permission.
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Old 12th May 2007, 21:05
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Was it not Skywest that was involved in the USAir runway accident also at LAX? Although I believe this was attributed to failures in the ATC Management at LAX.
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Old 13th May 2007, 15:30
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ohh yeah... a USAir landed on a SKYW metro that was in "position and hold". man that was a long time ago..poor souls, never knew what hit em..
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Old 13th May 2007, 17:01
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Aircraft "barreling" down runways..... Controllers yelling.. I never saw that in my lifetime. Must be different someplace else.
Old 13th May 2007, 17:18
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LAX incident

And to think that TM LAX once owned Jeppesen ( and said they understood aviation) afore they sold it to Boeing. TM seem to be going down the crap reporting route that so many have gone before.
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Old 13th May 2007, 17:41
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This is certainly nothing new for KLAX
Many years ago (mid-sixties) yours truly was waiting between 25L and 25R for crossing clearance.
Very restriced visibility due to fog.
Ground control says...cleared to cross.
But, I was also listening on the tower frequency, and had noted previously a takeoff clearance issued to a DC-8.
I held short...only to witness the DC-8 appear out of the fog, pass our position, and disappear into the fog again, just as the nosewheel was leaving the ground.
Not good from a safety perspective, as a way to operate.
I would have thought that things had improved...guess not.
Of course, one must remember that LAX (or, as it was called originally, Mines Field) was laid out with piston transports in mind.
They truly have squeezed in a lot onto the available acreage.
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Old 15th May 2007, 14:08
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Which is why in most countries, active runway crossing clearances are issued by the tower, not ground. Until this change is made in the US and other countries, instances like the one 411A mentions will continue to happen.
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Old 18th May 2007, 04:06
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An LAX tower controller years ago allowed the Metroliner to stay on the runway for a while, as the USAir 737 came down final approach. The controller forgot that the plane was cleared "into position to hold". The sun had almost set, making it almost impossible for the inbound 737 crew to notice the other plane.

For a while after that tragedy, tower controllers were ordered to never again, during sunset (or at night), allow a plane to remain for an extended time on an active runway with an inbound aircraft, but after a while the FAA decided that this was no longer a problem, from what I remember.

Was this not the case?
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Old 18th May 2007, 06:56
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Here is a link to a copy of the NTSB accident report for that unfortunate accident involving a USAir B737-300 and a Skywest Metroliner. Those of you who have flown in and out of KLAX will realize this could have happened to any one of us.
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Old 18th May 2007, 20:15
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LAX requires you to be on tower freq, talking to the local controller to cross a runway now.

One of the changes that came from that accident was no more position and hold at an intersection at night. There are some exemptions that I'm aware of however.
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Old 18th May 2007, 21:41
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What was the plate number for "barrelling down the runway" again so I can use it on the next landing brief.
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