May 25 Incursion Categorized As Level A
The near-collision May
26 on a runway at SFO has been categorized as the most serious of
incursions by the FAA, which noted that it is the most serious
incident of its kind in at least a decade, reported MediaNews.
The incident involved a Republic Airlines pilot who had to take
off to avoid colliding with a SkyWest Airlines plane on the
According to the FAA safety board, the incursion occurred about
1:30 pm when an SFO tower controller cleared SkyWest Airlines
Flight 5741 from Modesto to land on runway 28R. The same controller
then cleared Republic Airlines Flight 4912 to Los Angeles to take
off from runway 1L, which intersects runway 28R.
When the SkyWest plane landed, the Airport Movement Area Safety
System alerted the traffic controller that the two airplanes were
on a collision course, the safety board said.
The controller then ordered the SkyWest flight to halt short of
runway 1L, but the plane couldn't stop until it reached the middle
of the runway. The Republic Airlines pilot had to take off to avoid
colliding with the SkyWest flight.
According to the SkyWest crew, the Republic Airlines plane flew
over it by 30 to 50 feet. The FAA's preliminary report can be found here.
Airport officials are notified about such incursions," SFO
spokesman Mike McCarron said, "but there is nothing they can really
do unless they involve one of the airport's vehicles, which this
"Every category A is a serious event, and it is a serious
concern for us," said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. "This wasn't a
procedural issue, this was caused by a good controller with a lot
of experience making a mistake."
The controller, with about 20 years of experience, was required
to be recertified for his job, Gregor said.
Other than the pilots and air
traffic controllers, it's doubtful anyone knew about the incursion
when it happened, Gregor said, adding that it did not affect SFO
There have been 11 category A incursions nationwide so far this
fiscal year, out of more than 34 million takeoffs and landings.
The severity of the SFO incursion has generated an NTSB
investigation, as well, as reported by ANN.
"We investigate probably just a handful (of incursions) a year,"
said safety board spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz.
The safety board lists runway incursions as one of the most
serious transportation safety issues.
As a result, it has recommended that aircraft be equipped with
devices such as the Airport Movement Area Safety System and advises
pilots not to cross actively used runways without the approval of a
Current regulations do not require pilots to secure clearance to
cross each runway while taxiing for take-offs and landings.
"It would slow down the process of taxiing, but we think it
would improve safety," Lopatkiewicz said.
NTSB officials said their investigation could be completed in
the fall and may result in safety recommendations to the FAA, which
isn't required to follow them.