Flight Operations Suspended At Van Nuys After Car Ends Up On Runway

If anything, 2020 has been quite a strange year. Aside from the airline industry taking a massive hit and even sending a few airlines off into the sunset, it has also led to a complete upending of social life. In the spirit of a strange 2020, an incident at Van Nuys Airport in California is getting some attention as a car drove through the airport’s perimeter and went for a ride across taxiways and runways at the airport during a high-speed police chase.

Van Nuys Airport Getty
There was a high-speed chase at the Van Nuys Airport on November 6th. Photo: Getty Images

The incident at Van Nuys airport

A vehicle broke through the barriers at Van Nuys Airport during a high-speed chase. A driver in a dark-gray sedan broke through the aircraft’s perimeter fencing and started driving across the airport, including over various taxiways and runways. A helicopter covered some of the high-speed chase:

It was obviously a stressful experience for airport operations personnel and ground employees. In the video, you can see that one jet tried to get out of the way of the aircraft as airport personnel suspended flight operations to prevent any injury to planes and the driver of the car. The car then exited the aircraft barriers and came to a stop on the street, where the passenger was arrested.

Once the air traffic control tower got the news that there was a car on the runway, the controller began to work around the situation to ensure that all aircraft remain safe. The air traffic control recording that can be found at LiveATC.net put it succinctly:

“Everybody stand by. There’s a crazy man on the loose that was on the runway.”

Van Nuys Airport put out the following statement on social media:

“At around 8:50 a.m. the Los Angeles Airport Police engaged in a pursuit of an unauthorized vehicle that broke through a fence at Van Nuys Airport and entered the airfield. Aircraft traffic was immediately stopped. Both runways were re-opened around 9:50 a.m. after being inspected for safety. Police arrested one suspect at the scene and are investigating the incident. Los Angeles World Airports is grateful for the swift action by police.”

Van Nuys
Shutting down aircraft operations until the situation was resolved was a prudent decision taken by the airport’s personnel. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

A dangerous situation

This, obviously illegal situation, was thankfully not as bad as it could have been. If the car had hit an aircraft, damaged a fuel tank, or compromised the gear of a jet, it could have been disastrous not just for the driver but even those onboard the aircraft. It could have been even worse if the car came into contact with an engine.

Airports are heavily restricted areas. No unauthorized personnel are allowed on the tarmac, and an action like this will definitely come with harsh penalties for the driver.

Van Nuys Airport

If you’ve never heard of Van Nuys Airport (VNY), you are forgiven. The airport does not handle regular commercial flights. The airport sees a lot of general aviation, including private operations. Some celebrities, if they are flying private jets, do land at the airport. With no regularly scheduled commercial operations, it is a great spot for celebrities to come and go without dealing with a lot of fans or paparazzi.

Van Nuys Business jet
Van Nuys is a big general and business aviation airport. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Van Nuys Airport is owned by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). LAWA is also the operator of the much larger and well-known Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Ontario International Airport (ONT). Van Nuys also shows up in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

What do you make of this incident at Van Nuys? Let us know in the comments!