The FAA has interviewed the pilots of a Gulfstream V that caused a runway incursion on September 30 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), during which a SkyWest Airlines CRJ700 braked to a stop reportedly within 100 feet of the GV. The CRJ didn’t suffer any damage, according to a SkyWest spokeswoman, but did have to cool its brakes for 15 minutes, delaying the flight by about half an hour. The FAA classified the incursion as a “Class A, one in which the incident results in a collision, or extreme measures must be taken to avoid collision.” (See page 60 for an item on the worst runway collision in history.)
The FAA’s investigation into the incident is not complete, according to an agency spokesman. By cooperating with the FAA, the GV pilots might be able to avoid enforcement action by participating in the FAA’s runway incursion safety program.
According to tower recordings obtained by AIN from the FAA, the U.S.-certified pilots of Gulfstream VP-BIP (a British overseas registration) contacted LAX ground control on the evening of September 30: “Ground, this is Victor Papa Bravo India Papa at Landmark, ready to taxi.”
The ground controller responded, “Victor Papa Bravo India Papa, Los Angeles information Tango’s current, Runway 25 Right, taxi via Alpha and Golf, hold short Runway 25 Right.”
The GV pilot read the clearance back as follows: “Alpha and Golf, 25 Right, hold short of 25 Right.”
The controller’s next radio call to the GV was to tell the pilots that they had missed taxiway Golf. The GV acknowledged. The controller then told the GV to “cross Runway 25 Left, hold short Runway 25 Right.”
The pilot responded, “Cross 25 Left, hold short 25 Right, Bravo India Papa.” The controller then asked the pilot to monitor the tower frequency. Then there is an unidentified radio call, as follows: “Bravo India Papa? Bravo India Papa?” That is the end of the ground control recording.
The tower recording then begins with a female controller clearing SkyWest Flight 6430 for takeoff. The Sky West pilot responded, “Cleared for takeoff, 25 Right at Foxtrot, SkyWest 6430.”
The tape captured something that sounds like someone yelling, then an unidentified voice said, “That was real great!”
The female controller then called, “6430, I apologize, [unintelligible] Gulfstream had crossed without a clearance. I apologize, if you could make a right turn, please, and exit the runway.”
The SkyWest pilot said, “Exiting right.” At this point, the microphone captured heavy breathing, possibly a sigh of relief, then “SkyWest 6430.” The controller then directed the GV to hold its position.
A new controller, a male voice, then instructed the SkyWest crew to turn right off the runway onto taxiway Bravo, “while we get this sorted out.” The controller next told the GV: “Bravo India Papa, Los Angeles tower, continue Bravo, Charlie 3, Charlie, hold short of Charlie 1.”
The GV responded, “Bravo, Charlie 3, Charlie 1, and Bravo India Papa, apologies there, we’d been cleared by ground and we came up on your frequency, they told us cleared to cross 25 Ri…, Left and Right, join, and then hold short of 25…Rrrright on the other side.”
“OK,” the controller said, “we’ll get it all sorted out, ah, it’s just, ah, everybody’s, ah, safe for now so that’s the important thing. Just go ahead and take the next intersection into Charlie and hold short of Charlie 1.”
According to the FAA spokesman, the tower obtained the GV crew’s contact information but did not ask them to curtail their flight. The FAA interviewed the pilots after they returned from a series of flights.
Given that the GV crew told the tower controller that they thought ground had cleared them to cross 25 Right, AIN asked the FAA if the readbacks were considered to be correct. In the first important readback, the GV pilot is heard to say: “Alpha and Golf, 25 Right, hold short of 25 Right.”
The clearance specifically said: “… Runway 25 Right, taxi via Alpha and Golf, hold short Runway 25 Right.”
The FAA spokesman said that “there were no incorrect readbacks. Our ATC people have combed through the tapes multiple times and determined the pilot-controller communications were proper.”