Blunders lead to near-crash at LAX

first_img“Stop right there,” the controller ordered the small plane as a siren sounded in the control tower, warning of a potential collision. Another controller told the jumbo jet to abort its landing and circle around, but it was too late. The small plane was moving away from the runway when the jet whipped past. Nonetheless, the Federal Aviation Administration estimated that the two planes may have come within 50 feet of crashing. The incident is under further review. “It was pretty close,” said Michael Foote, the local president of the controllers’ union. The SkyWest plane was carrying only its crew, on a repositioning flight from Redding. The Virgin Atlantic plane, though, an Airbus A340-600, could have been carrying up to 372 passengers, based on its seating configuration. Its pilot called the control tower after the near-collision to compliment the controller’s handling of the fast-developing situation, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. The incident Sunday evening marked the third time this year that planes have come dangerously close to each other on the runways of LAX. The other two happened within the span of little more than 24 hours in February, and neither was as serious. Sunday’s close call appears to have been the most dire at the airport since last September. In that case, the pilot of a SkyWest plane speeding toward takeoff had to slam on the brakes when another plane rolled into his path. He avoided a crash by a mere 100 feet. Historically, most runway safety violations at LAX have happened on the southern pair of runways, which are undergoing a $333 million reconfiguration to make them safer. But two of the three close calls this year have happened on the northern runways. The airport’s neighbors to the north have mobilized to fight any reconfiguration of that side of the airfield that would push a runway significantly closer to their homes. They have found allies in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other local politicians, who have demanded proof of a safety problem on those runways. The city has commissioned a study of the safety of those runways, which should be completed within several weeks. [email protected] (310) 543-6649160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The SkyWest plane was fighting a hard wind as it drove down the runway after its landing. With the jumbo jet fast approaching, a controller told the SkyWest pilot, “Keep it rolling, please, turn left off the runway.” The controller directed the small plane toward an airfield intersection, where two taxiways meet the runway like two roads meeting a highway. One requires a slight swerve to the left; the other requires a hard left turn. The controller instructed the plane to take the easy turn onto a taxiway called Zulu, to keep it moving and get it out of the way of the landing jetliner. Instead, the SkyWest plane veered hard and started down the wrong taxiway. “I said Zulu, sir, turn left off the runway,” the controller said. The SkyWest plane stopped. Then it turned around, headed back toward the intersection, and turned onto the correct taxiway – even as the jumbo jet raced toward the runway. A small airplane narrowly missed colliding with a speeding jumbo jet at Los Angeles International Airport this week after a series of blunders took it dangerously close to an active runway. The jumbo jet roared past at an estimated 100 mph, the tip of one wing coming as close as 50 feet to striking the smaller plane. It appears to have been the most dangerous near-collision at LAX since last year. It began with a wrong turn. The smaller plane, a SkyWest turboprop arriving from Redding, landed Sunday evening on the northern-most runway at LAX. Behind it, a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet was lining up to land on the same runway after a flight from London. last_img

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