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LAX runway where plane blew tire is at center of city lawsuit

December 06, 2013|By Ari Bloomekatz and Dan Weikel
  • A Southwest plane blew a tire at LAX.
A Southwest plane blew a tire at LAX. (KTLA )

The runway at Los Angeles International Airport where a plane blew a tire after landing Friday morning is at the center of a lawsuit claiming the stretch is riddled with construction defects.

The $250-million runway, known as 25 Left, fails to meet Federal Aviation Administration construction standards and the runway has cracks and deteriorating concrete, according to city officials and a city lawsuit filed in October against the companies responsible for the work. 

The runway was rebuilt six years ago and the city claims it will be prematurely forced to reconstruct it. Commercial runways generally have a life span of 20 to 25 years.

On Friday, Southwest Airlines Flight 1641 from Phoenix blew a tire after landing on Runway 25 Left at 8:42 a.m. None of the 79 people on board were injured and the runway was temporarily closed, airport officials said.

Jon Russell, a safety expert with the nation's Air Line Pilots Assn., said it's unlikely the runway's condition caused the tire to blow.

"I'm sure that they scrutinized every aspect of that touchdown very closely," Russell said. "They wouldn't allow anything to land if there were issues with the runway."

Especially with the pending lawsuit, Russell said "there's too much liability with that."

"The tires, they wear out pretty quickly, believe it or not," Russell said. "It's not like a thing that happens regularly, but these things will happen."

Nancy Castles, spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports, said the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as internal controls, would not allow the runway to be used if it were in disrepair.

"The runway is usable," Castles said, adding the lawsuit is about "deterioration" and that at some point the runway will need to be rebuilt, but that time is not now.


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