Code Brown As This Gulfstream Jet Nearly Lands On Workers Repairing A Closed Runway

The close call happened at Paraguay's Asuncion Silvio Pettirossi International Airport and raises a mound of safety questions. 

Twitter Screencap

If you have ever been on a closed runway before it may have given you something of an eerie feeling. Crazy things happen in aviation, including accidental landings on taxiways, closed runways, and even at entirely different airports than intended. There is a reason that big and bright 'X' pendants are setup at the ends of runways in the U.S. that are closed for construction, they serves as a last warning to pilots that the landing area is fouled and touching down on it could result in horrific death and destruction. But regardless, this clearly wasn't the case in the video below. 

The clip shows a group of workers fixing a section of the asphalt on Paraguay's Asuncion Silvio Pettirossi International Airport's single 11,000-foot runway when a Gulfstream V appears on final approach for the runway. The workers scramble out of its way just in time as the big private jet roars by.

Here is a direct link to the Twitter video if it doesn't propagate below automatically:

A couple things of note here. First off, it's not clear if the runway was actually closed when the incident took place. Instead, the runway's threshold may have been displaced just forward of where the men were working. This seems insanely dangerous, and if that was indeed the case, the video serves as proof that it was. Otherwise, if the runway was officially closed, the jet shouldn't have been using it to land under any circumstances. 

Google Earth

Asuncion Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.

Either way, the idea that pilots would have executed an approach to a landing area where workers, the aircraft, and its passengers would be put in danger is baffling. That GV probably needed every foot of the remaining runway to safely recover, hence the low-approach, but diverting to a safe runway is a far better option than turning into a giant fireball full of aluminum shrapnel tumbling down the tarmac. 

We are looking into the incident and will update this post when we find out more.

Update: 5:40pm PST—

So, apparently this video is a few years old, but has just now gone viral in Paraguay to the point that the head of the Dirección Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil (DINAC) that the workers were assigned to commented on it on Twitter:

The Twitter thread basically talks how safety is first and the precautions that should be taken. But it doesn't explain what happened in the video itself and implies that the incident is now under investigation.

Gatechecked.com has a writeup about the incident, in which it talks about the investigation and translates the official's response as such:

In relation to the video that circled on various networks, in which an aircraft landing operation is observed a short distance from the track maintenance personnel in full work, it is pertinent to communicate that:

The video dates from 4 to 5 years ago. Even one of the officials who is observed in the video celebrated his retirement on April 30, 2016.

The maintenance works to the track are constant and with all the security rigor. Coordinated and informed with time via NOTAM, as required by the international procedure to which the Institution is submitted.

Each operation is veiled by the Control Tower and each aircraft receives instructions for each action, this is independent of NOTAM, which is previously issued.

The aircraft commanders are obliged to respond to the directives of the Air Traffic Controllers and it is their obligation to be aware of each NOTAM issued by the institution.

The President of the DINAC, Dr. Edgar Melgarejo (@edgarmelgin) requested several reports about this video in order to clarify this event with more precision.”

According to a Paraguayan publication ABC Color, the pilots involved were also made aware of the incident, however we have been unable to determine if there were any consequences as a result of their actions.

The airport’s runway has always been a topic of concern due to poor construction and maintenance. The government has since announced plans to completely revamp the runway and its related facilities, as well as build a second terminal.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com