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Plane narrowly misses van crossing runway for barbecue

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© City of Springfield A plane had a near miss with a van on the runway of Springfield-Branson National Airport on June 27, 2018.

By Wes Johnson, USA TODAY
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.

A video taken from the control tower shows a van crossing a runway at the Springfield-Branson National Airport just seconds ahead of an airliner that was taking off.

No one was injured in the June 27 incident. The jetliner, an Embraer 145 operated by American Airlines affiliate Envoy Air, was carrying 50 passengers and three crew.

A report filed by Jim Brown, driver of the van, indicates he and two other people were taking the van to an airport employee barbecue. The Springfield News-Leader obtained the report through a Sunshine Law request.

[post_ads]"I decided that due to the time limitations we would cross the runway in order to make it in time," Brown wrote in his report.

"Just as I had cleared runway 20 the Ground Controller cleared me to cross runway 14, I repeated back cleared to cross runway 14 and proceeded at a high rate of speed (to minimize time on the taxiway and runway) down taxiway Uniform."

"It is generally my practice to look at both ends of any runway I cross, but I honestly cannot say for sure that I looked both ways or how far down the runway I might have looked," Brown wrote.

Brown described what happened next:

"About halfway across runway 14 the right front seat passenger said 'Oh Shit' I looked out the right passenger window to see the landing lights of an E145 (passenger jet) coming down the runway. The nose gear had already rotated, I do not know if the mains had left the ground or not. I accelerated across the runway and heard the aircraft overhead just as we were leaving the runway surface."

Brown, in his report, says he asked if any of his passengers heard that his van was cleared to cross runway 14 "and both stated that he did clear us to cross runway 14."

Brown said he reported the incident to the airport operations supervisor.
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A preliminary National Transportation Safety Bureau report notes visibility at the time was 10 miles.

Airport responds

Late Wednesday morning, airport spokesman Kent Boyd issued a statement about the event.

"The airport takes safety very seriously. As such, we are reviewing internal operating procedures that may have contributed to this incident. The driver of the van is an airport employee. We cannot comment further because the incident is under investigation and in addition, we do not comment about personnel matters."

Boyd notes the NTSB is investigating the runway incursion, and the airport "is fully cooperating and we look forward to NTSB’s final report and recommendations."

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