Car drives onto LAX runway, forcing jet to abort takeoff

A jet carrying 78 passengers and crew members had to abort a takeoff at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday when a car made a wrong turn onto a runway, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The unusual incident occurred about 11:50 a.m., around the same time that air traffic controllers were dealing with requests for emergency landings from two other airliners, officials said.

FAA officials said a Compass Airlines Embraer 170, a regional jet, was headed down a runway on the south side of LAX when an alarm sounded in the tower and traffic controllers spotted the car.


A Los Angeles World Airports employee driving an official airport vehicle had mistakenly turned onto the runway from a taxiway and was headed toward the twin-engine jet, officials said.

After being alerted by air traffic control, the pilot applied the brakes and pulled off the runway a few thousand feet down the runway. No injuries were reported.

Though it has not been officially confirmed, the jet and car were apparently several thousand feet apart when the airliner came to a stop.

“We can’t immediately confirm when the last time a runway incident involving a vehicle last occurred, but this is extremely rare,” said Nancy Castles, a spokeswoman for LAWA who has worked for the LAX operator for 20 years.

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FAA officials said they will investigate the incident. The Compass jet, which was flying for Delta Connection, departed for Kansas City International Airport after a short delay.

Airport officials said they intercepted the car and later rescinded the employee’s authorization to drive on airfield service roads. The driver had not been cleared to go on or near runways, officials said.

The emergency landings included a Delta Airlines A330 from Atlanta to Honolulu that diverted to LAX because of a medical emergency and landed about 11:55 a.m.

The other urgent landing involved an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 from LAX to Seattle, which returned because of a mechanical issue and landed without incident shortly after noon.

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