Spirit A321 at Fort Lauderdale on Jan 29th 2016, rejected takeoff on ATC instruction due to vehicle on runway

Last Update: April 15, 2020 / 23:21:59 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 29, 2016


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A321-200, registration N587NK performing flight NK-371 from Fort Lauderdale,FL (USA) to Aguadilla (Puerto Rico), had been cleared for takeoff from Fort Lauderdale's runway 10 and was accelerating for takeoff, when tower cancelled the takeoff clearance due to a vehicle on the runway. The crew rejected takeoff and brought the aircraft to a safe stop.

On Jun 2nd 2017 the NTSB reported an airport maintenance truck had been on the runway near taxiway D. The tower controller received an ASDE-X alert warning of the conflict and cancelled the takeoff clearance. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. The occurrence was rated an incident and is being investigated by the NTSB.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground for about 6.5 hours before returning to service.

On Apr 15th 2020 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable causes of the incident were:

The air traffic controller's failure to ensure the runway surface area was clear of vehicles before clearing an aircraft for takeoff. Also causal was the flight crew's decision to initiate a takeoff while the Runway Status Lights (RWSL) Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs) were activated. Contributing to the incident was the lack of a standard procedure for vehicle operators to request runway clearances and resultant "hear back/read back" error between the vehicle operator and the air traffic controller.

The NTSB summarized the sequence of events:

The runway incursion occurred during the early morning hours when traffic was light, and when the airport authority usually conducted maintenance activities on the airfield. The air traffic controller approved a request by an airport maintenance vehicle to operate on the runway; however, there were no standard operating procedures or standard phraseology regarding how airfield vehicle operators were to reference the specific runway end when requesting permission to enter a runway. This lack of standard procedure resulted in four hear back/read back errors between the operator of the vehicle and the air traffic controller immediately prior to the runway incursion event.

After the airport vehicle had been approved by the air traffic controller to operate on the runway, the crew of the A321 requested a clearance to taxi to the same runway for departure and was subsequently cleared for takeoff. The airport runways and taxiways were equipped with the Runway Status Light (RWSL) system. As the crew of the A321 aligned with the runway centerline for departure, the Takeoff Hold Lights (THL) portion of the RWSL activated, displaying red lights on the runway surface. The crew continued the takeoff over the illuminated RWSL system. The RWSL system was operating correctly and the THL portion of the system deactivated when the A321 reached a predetermined speed consistent with an aircraft continuing departure.

As the A321 was departing, the Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X) alerted and the air traffic controller responded by cancelling the takeoff clearance when the A321 was near takeoff speed. The A321 stopped on the runway about 500 feet from the airport vehicle.
Aircraft Registration Data
Registration mark
Country of Registration
United States
Date of Registration
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TCDS Ident. No.
Aircraft Model / Type
Number of Seats
ICAO Aircraft Type
Year of Manufacture
Serial Number
Aircraft Address / Mode S Code (HEX)
Engine Count
Engine Manufacturer
Engine Model
Engine Type
Pounds of Thrust
Main Owner
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 29, 2016


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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