Incursions Keep Occurring Despite Safety Focus

 - August 30, 2007, 12:27 PM

The day after the FAA held a meeting with more than 40 industry leaders to discuss runway safety, two jets–a Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet Boeing 737 and Northwest Airlines Airbus A320–nearly collided at Los Angeles International Airport. According to the NTSB, on August 16 after landing on Runway 24R, a WestJet 737 exited Taxiway Y and switched to ground frequency “without authorization.” As the WestJet Boeing held between parallel runways, the tower controller cleared a Northwest A320 to take off on Runway 24L. Ground control told WestJet to taxi to the gate, assuming, the NTSB noted, “that the tower controller had instructed the flight to cross Runway 24L.” WestJet asked ground to confirm clearance to cross Runway 24L. Realizing that WestJet was not cleared to cross, the controller told the pilots to stop, which they did after crossing the hold-short line. The wing of the Northwest A320 missed the nose of the WestJet Boeing by 37 feet. The FAA decertified the ground controller. No FAA regulation requires pilots to wait for permission before switching to ground frequency, although the AIM advises pilots to switch to ground “when advised by the tower…” A WestJet spokesman claimed in a news report that Canadian regulations make such permission mandatory, but there is no such regulation, according to a Transport Canada spokeswoman.