Crash of Flight 5191

Controller averts possible runway mishap

An air-traffic controller at Louisville International Airport stopped a commuter plane from taxiing to a runway that a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 had entered, a Federal Aviation Administration official said.

The C-130 had been instructed to taxi to Runway 35 but hold short of the runway, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergin said yesterday.

It crossed the “hold-short line” and entered the runway, Bergin said. A Mesaba Airlines flight bound for Detroit had been cleared for takeoff and was heading toward the same runway when a ground controller saw what had happened, she said.

If the Mesaba plane had started to take off, it could have crossed paths with the C-130 along the runway.

Three controllers and a supervisor were on duty at the time, about 11:35 a.m. Wednesday, said Jeff Gilde, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at Louisville International and among those on duty. The FAA did not provide the name of the controller who caught the error.

Col. Ken Dale, a commander for the Air National Guard, said the C-130 pilot thought he had been cleared to cross the runway. “It was our fault,” he said.

The incident came less than a month after Comair Flight 5191 crashed after attempting to take off from the wrong runway at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport. Only one controller was on duty, instead of the two that the FAA has acknowledged should have been working.

Wednesday’s incident was only the fourth so-called runway incursion at Louisville International in the past five years, the FAA said.

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