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Pilots are blamed for 2 incidents

Authorities say aircraft came too close to one another twice at LAX over the weekend.

February 28, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

Aircraft came too close to one another at Los Angeles International Airport twice last weekend, the first such incidents at the facility since September.

At 8:43 p.m. Sunday, controllers instructed the pilot of a Piaggio P180 turboprop to taxi to a runway on the airport's south side in preparation for takeoff. As the pilot neared the runway, he breached a safety zone, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

A controller told the pilot of the Piaggio to stop before he crossed the runway, and the tower asked an incoming SkyWest Airlines turboprop that was approaching from about half a mile away to circle and make another landing attempt, Gregor said.

On Saturday at 5:38 p.m., a Continental Airlines Boeing 737 landed on the north side of LAX and left the outer runway on a taxiway, where it was to wait before crossing the inner runway. Controllers then cleared an American Eagle turboprop to take off on the inner runway. After the turboprop was airborne, the controller cleared the Continental jet to cross the runway.

An unknown voice on the radio said, "I think he already crossed." The turboprop flew about 800 feet over the Boeing 737, officials said.

In both cases, a ground radar system designed to alert controllers in the tower to impending collisions sounded an alarm. The FAA classified both incidents as the pilots' fault. The agency has yet to classify the incidents using one of four letter grades indicating how close the aircraft came to one another.

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