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Old 05-12-2007, 07:34 AM   #1  
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Default SkyWest and Virgin Atlantic 747 near miss at LAX

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
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 05-12-2007, 07:36 AM   #2  
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scary. could of happened to anybody. lets hope skywest "counsels" the crew and doesnt fire them
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Old 05-12-2007, 07:48 AM   #3  
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scary. could of happened to anybody. lets hope skywest "counsels" the crew and doesnt fire them
I am familiar with the taxiway configuration . . . . and many times tower will say to make a sharp left. . . Southwest usually takes this route to shorten their taxi to the gate. Not uncommon for the controllers to issue this.

In fact, it's not unusual for the aircraft to take taxiway Zulu when they were supposed to make the hard left on Yankee . . .

The problem I have is that the crew made a 180 vs. asking tower what to do . .

THE GOOD THING is that the crew was still on TOWER Frequency. Many many times I have seen and heard (or not) the crew switch to Ground Frequency WHILE sitting between two runways like in LAX. And tower is unable to contact them . . .
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Old 05-12-2007, 08:51 AM   #4  
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...is it just me or does it seem like skywest likes to create snafus at x-lax?
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Old 05-12-2007, 09:33 AM   #5  
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haha well the last one wasnt their fault. the previous skw incursion at LAX was a skw aborting their takeoff roll because another airplane was lost and tried to cross in front of them in very low vis, i believe the skw crew was praised for preventing what would have been a very nasty accident
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Old 05-12-2007, 09:34 AM   #6  
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...is it just me or does it seem like skywest likes to create snafus at x-lax?
Its just you.

Skywest pilots have actually *prevented* a couple major incidents at LAX recently...
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Old 05-12-2007, 06:55 PM   #7  
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Its just you.

Skywest pilots have actually *prevented* a couple major incidents at LAX recently...
this is true, but it seems like they are always involved in some way or another,, just bad luck i guess. But you are right, lax is crazy and skywest does a good job and usually gets the short end when people who don't fly there often start screwing up...
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Old 05-12-2007, 07:15 PM   #8  
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Great, this is exactly what I need to hear before my IOE which includes LAX.
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Old 05-12-2007, 08:13 PM   #9  
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this is true, but it seems like they are always involved in some way or another,, just bad luck i guess. But you are right, lax is crazy and skywest does a good job and usually gets the short end when people who don't fly there often start screwing up...
Correct me if I'm wrong...but I believe SkyWest is the largest operator at LAX in terms of number of arrivals and departures. So of course they are more likely to be involved than other carriers.
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Old 05-13-2007, 12:38 PM   #10  
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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
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."

Maybe their psuedo union can get their jobs back.............

But more importantly - glad noone got killed.
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