NTSB investigating runway incursion in Allentown, PA.


The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a runway incursion Friday evening in Allentown, Pennsylvania involving a general aviation aircraft and a Chicago-bound regional jet airliner.

At 7:45 p.m. on September 19, a Cessna R172K (N736GV) was on a landing roll on runway 6 at the Lehigh Valley International Airport when the pilot was instructed to exit the runway at taxiway A4. Mesa Airlines flight 7138, a CRJ-700 (N506MJ), already instructed to position and hold on the same runway, was then given clearance by the same controller
to take off.

During the takeoff roll, the Mesa crew heard the Cessna pilot say that he’d missed the taxiway A4 turnoff and ask to exit at taxiway B. The Mesa crew saw the Cessna ahead on the runway and aborted the takeoff at about 120 knots, swerving around the Cessna. The Mesa crew estimated that they missed colliding with the Cessna by about 10 feet.

Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and there were no reported injuries to the 60 persons aboard the jet or those aboard the Cessna.


100% the controller’s fault for giving a clearance without confirming that the runway would be clear.


Position and hold at Allentown??? Those instructions should not have been issued unless the tower manager can “justify” the need from all I have read. Can’t imagine Allentown PA traffic justifying the need???

NATCA view
natca.org/mediacenter/press- … spx?id=341

AOPA view from Avweb

Not quite sure when it was implemented. but it look like 10/01/05 from NATCA’s article


I am trying to get ahold of the tower recording for this flight. Does anyone have any idea where Imight get it?

Thanks for any help

Darryl Isherwood


archive-server.liveatc.net/kabe/ … -2330Z.mp3
If you can’t get that to open, try the liveatc.net archives. You want the time period 19 Sep from 2330Z to 0000Z.

Be sure to download the recordings because they are archived for only 30 days.


Start at 8 minutes into the recording. At about 9 minutes, Mesa tells the tower that the airplane was still on the runway.


All I can make out is “the plane is still on the runway guys…” Can you hear anything else on this?


Here’s what I make out of it. My first time through it, I missed the transmission beginning at 6:28 into the recording. Other transmissions are not included in the summary below (all times are approximate from the beginning of the recording).

6:28 Tower tells Shuttle7138 to position and hold

6:40 Towers asks 6GV where is he parking

6:50 a little garbled: 6GV acknowledges where to turn (taxiway A4)

7:15 Shuttle 7138 cleared for take off

7:22 Cessna 79V is asked by tower if he sees the regional jet in sight. They are told they are cleared for the option

7:37 6GV says they taxied past A4, can they take the next taxiway (B)

7:45 Tower says “no delay, turn immediately.” 6VG replies with “okay, bravo”

8:17 Shuttle 7138 calls tower

8:23 Shuttle 7138 says they are going to need to return to the gate. Tower approves and tells them to contact ground

8:43 (some garble) 6GV calls tower to taxi to ramp. Tower approves

9:11 Tower: “Did you call the tower?”

9:12 Shuttle 7138: "(garbled) The airplane was on the runway, guys. We’re gonna (garbled)

Someone had a stuck mike after this point as the tower states a few seconds later.


The direct link above is incorrect. Here’s the correct link:
archive-server.liveatc.net/kabe/ … -2330Z.mp3

Transmission about the plane on the runway is at 9:12


If events unfolded as Dami transcribed it, this is technically not a runway incursion.

7138 should have never been cleared for take off as the runway environment still belonged to 6GV.

Missing a taxiway turn isn’t an incursion as 6GV was still authorized to be on the runway when 7138 was cleared for takeoff.

faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/new … ewsId=9612 for definition of runway incursion.

I don’t know about others but my landing light on my plane does not illuminate at best the dimly lit taxiway signage so I could easily see me wearing 6GV shoes on landing and missing a taxiway turnoff.

Taxiing for me is extremely difficult at night especially if the centerline paint has faded with time. I find myself more like “feeling my way around” it’s quite dark and lonely on a wide runway. Yea I know, look for the green lights in the middle of the runway, but still depending on where I would have landed, not so sure I could slow down to turn at those “green lights” A lot of unknown variables exists so can’t make judgement here other then to think the clearance for take off was in error and that is of course based on the information provided in this thread.

Incredibily, private pilot training does not cover taxiing at night very well especially at the smaller airports where training is conducted. It’s more like OJT once you are cut loose. Yeah, you do your 10 “full stop” night landings or “suppose to”. in your training.


Thanks, Needlenose. The one you gave is the one I downloaded. However, I didn’t update my posting.


Its an operational error by the controller.


ICAO defines a runway incursion as any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft presents a potential conflict.

It sounds to me like a runway incursion is always pilot error. As lieberma pointed out, the runway environment still belonged to 6GV, and 7138 was authorized onto the runway. So is there a certain specific term (besides “controller error”) used to identify this type of incident when it’s caused by a controller’s error?

Glad to help :wink:


Operational Error (OE) as pthomas745 already pointed out (his post hit while I was creating mine and I had not refreshed my screen) :smiley:

faa.gov/runwaysafety/ace/presentations/3.ppt (Power Point)

One other thing to point out, runway incursion can be ground maintenance vehicles not getting a clearance to cross a runway, so not always a pilot error.


I agree, there’s a big difference between doing a night landing on a 3000 ft x 60 ft. runway with a handful of other guys in cessnas where a lot of these guys are trained and landing on a 7500 ft. x 150 ft. runway running around with 25 ton jets on a tight schedule common at “small” airports like ABE.


Yeah - he posted it while I was composing my question too.

Ahhh - Good point! I guess the point I was trying to make was that a runway incursion cannot be the fault of a controller.

Informative presentation. Page 4 shows that and 56% of incursions are caused by pilot error, and Operational Errors are the cause of 23% (goes against the ICAO definition of “Runway Incursion”). Consider that a controller spends his whole day dealing with “situational awareness” of keeping planes separated, and pilots may spend an hour or two a day with ground/tower control. So controllers have four to eight times more opportunity than pilots to make an error, but they make less than half of the errors. Perhaps the controllers’ low percentage is due to constantly being focused on what’s where all day, while the pilots’ high percentage is due to distractions of other tasks.


Unless I’m reading something wrong (off by a day or off on something else), it seems 7138 had to divert on its flight into ABE that day.

flightaware.com/live/flight/ASH7 … /KORD/KABE

Has this been discussed? Does anyone know why? Is this just a really lousy coincidence on an otherwise beautiful day in the cockpit?


No, looking at past history, I read it as he was intending to go to ABE, but diverted to DTW. Notice there is no arrival time into ABE.

Full history flightaware.com/live/flight/ASH7138/history


Subsequent entries show the plane getting into ABE from Detroit a couple of hours after normal schedule and about 45 minutes before taking off again. Also, looks like it took a little longer getting out of Detroit than they’d hoped.

flightaware.com/live/flight/ASH7 … /KDTW/KABE


Thanks to all who replied to my post. Appreciate the quick responses.

Darryl Isherwood