2007 San Francisco International Airport runway incursion

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2007 San Francisco International Airport runway incursion
Incident summary
Date May 26, 2007 (2007-05-26)
Summary Runway incursion
Site San Francisco Int'l Airport
California, USA
37°37′15″N 122°22′28″W / 37.62072°N 122.37452°W / 37.62072; -122.37452Coordinates: 37°37′15″N 122°22′28″W / 37.62072°N 122.37452°W / 37.62072; -122.37452
Total injuries (non-fatal) 0
Total survivors 27 (all)
First aircraft


An Embraer 170 Regional Jet similar to that involved in the incursion.
Type Embraer 170 Regional Jet
Operator Republic Airlines
(o/a Frontier Airlines)
Registration N872RW
Passengers 11
Crew 4
Second aircraft


An Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia turboprop aircraft similar to that involved in the incursion.
Type Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia
Operator SkyWest Airlines
(o/a United Express)
Registration N232SW
Passengers 9
Crew 3

The 2007 San Francisco International Airport runway incursion occurred around 1:30 pm PST on May 26, 2007 when SkyWest Airlines (operating as United Express) Flight 5741 (SKW5741), an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia turboprop aircraft, nearly collided with Republic Airlines (operating as Frontier Airlines) Flight 4912, an Embraer 170 Regional Jet, at the intersection of runways 1L and 28R at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), South San Francisco, California.[1]

There were no reported injuries to occupants and no reported damage to either aircraft.[2] Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials described the runway incursion as the most serious incident of its kind in at least a decade,[3] and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) initiated an investigation into the incident.[4][5]

Incident[edit]

Visual representation of the runway configuration at SFO. The takeoff path of the jet is shown in red, and the landing path of the turboprop is shown in blue.

The SkyWest aircraft was arriving at SFO after a flight from Modesto, California, and was cleared for a visual approach to runway 28R by NorCal approach control. After being switched over to the tower controller, SkyWest was cleared to land on runway 28R. At the same time, the Republic Airlines aircraft, bound for Los Angeles, California was instructed to taxi into position and hold for two minutes before takeoff clearance was also granted on the intersecting runway 1L. As the landing SkyWest aircraft passed the runway threshold the Republic Airlines aircraft was cleared for takeoff.[2] Local procedures and FAA Order 7110.65 require the local controller to wait until the landing aircraft has passed through the intersection before clearing an aircraft for takeoff on one of the intersecting runways.

Approximately 27 seconds later the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) issued an aural warning of an imminent collision, and the local controller attempted to instruct the SkyWest aircraft to stop, transmitting, "uh, sky-, skywest uhh fifty seven forty one HOLD HOLD HOLD". The SkyWest aircraft came to a stop in the intersection of runways 1L and 28R, while Republic Airlines flight lifted off and overflew it. The initial FAA tower report estimated the aircraft missed colliding by 300 feet; however the Skywest crew estimated the distance as 30 to 50 feet.[2]

Investigation[edit]

Runway safety has been a priority concern for both the FAA and NTSB.[6][7][8] In a March 23, 2007 press conference on runway safety the FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey described the Tenerife disaster 30 years earlier as a "wake-up" call.[9] Runway safety has been on the NTSB's annual list of "Most Wanted Improvements" continuously since 1990,[10] and the NTSB held a one-day forum on runway incursions just two months earlier, on March 27, 2007.[11]

In this case, the FAA categorized the incident's severity as "Category A", the most severe;[3] Category A is defined as when "separation decreases and participants take extreme action to narrowly avoid a collision, or the event results in a collision."[6] Of the previous 15 runway incursions at SFO between 2001 and 2007, none of them were more serious than Category C,[12] defined as the situation where "separation decreases but there is ample time and distance to avoid a potential collision".[6]

Commenting on the seriousness of the incident, NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz noted that "We investigate probably just a handful (of incursions) a year."[3] The NTSB officials have stated that the investigation could be completed by Fall.[3] However, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor was quoted as saying "This wasn't a procedural issue, this was caused by a good controller with a lot of experience making a mistake", adding that since the incursion the controller had to be recertified for their job.[3] The controller had over 20 years' experience.[13]

SFO and AMASS[edit]

SFO was initially selected for the first test installation of the AMASS ground radar system in 1992. AMASS, which can detect and alert controllers to potential runway conflicts, was intended by the FAA to be eventually installed in 40 airports around the country. However much criticism was directed at the project for cost overruns and lengthy delays.[14] The SFO AMASS was finally declared operational on June 18, 2001.[15] According to AMASS technical support personnel, in a scenario such as this conflict, AMASS is designed to provide an alert 15 seconds before the aircraft reach the conflict point, and the system performed as designed.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee, Henry K. (2007-06-11). "Turboprop narrowly misses hitting jet at SFO". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14. Two passenger planes almost collided, missing each other by only 50 feet, at San Francisco International Airport because of a controller's mistake two weeks ago, federal investigators said today. 
  2. ^ a b c d "NTSB Identification: OPS07IA004A". National Transportation Safety Board. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14. On May 26, 2007, at 1336 Pacific daylight time, Republic Airlines flight 4912 (RPA4912), an Embraer 170 regional jet, and Skywest Airlines flight 5741 (SKW5741), an Embraer Brasilia turboprop, nearly collided in the intersection of runway1L and runway 28R at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California. Both aircraft were operating as scheduled passenger flights under 14 CFR part 121 and were operating on instrument flight plans. There were no reported injuries to occupants and no reported damage to either aircraft. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Abramson, Mark (2007-06-30). "FAA: Runway near miss at SFO was serious". Palo Alto Daily News (Daily News Group). Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-14. Federal Aviation Administration officials are calling a near-collision at San Francisco International Airport the most serious incident of its kind at the airport in at least a decade. 
  4. ^ LARAnews.net Editorial Team (2007-06-11). "NTSB Investigating runway incursion at San Francisco". LARAnews.net. Retrieved 2007-07-13. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a runway incursion in San Francisco two weeks ago. 
  5. ^ "NTSB Advisory". National Transportation Safety Board. 2007-06-11. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a runway incursion in San Francisco two weeks ago in which two airliners may have come within 50 feet of each other on intersecting runways. 
  6. ^ a b c http://www.faa.gov/runwaysafety/pdf/report5.pdf
  7. ^ FAA - Office of Runway Safety - Runway Safety Home
  8. ^ runway incursion
  9. ^ http://videoontheweb.faa.gov/news/Press_Conference_on_Runway_Safety-hs.asx
  10. ^ House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee : Press Release :: Aviation Subcommittee Holds Hearing on NTSB Safety Priorities
  11. ^ "NTSB - Symposia". Runway Incursion Forum: Promoting Runway Safety. National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  12. ^ Inside Bay Area - Serious runway incursions rare in area[dead link]
  13. ^ Abramson, Mark (2007-06-24). "Adrenaline keeps air traffic controllers flying high on the job". Palo Alto Daily News (Daily News Group). Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-14. In the wake of a near-miss at San Francisco International Airport last month due to an error by an air traffic controller with two decades of experience, several local controllers shared their experiences in the field with the Daily News. 
  14. ^ "FAA's runway safety system off track". CNN. 1999-08-13. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  15. ^ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives