LAX Wake Turbulence
What: American Eagle Embraer ERJ-140 en route from Lindbergh Field San Diego to Los Angeles
What: LAN Airlines Boeing 767-300 from from Lima Peru to Los Angeles, CA
When: Jan 19th 2010
Why: At the time of the American Eagle’s arrival to LAX, both jets were flying at the same altitude. The danger was not collision. The danger was wake turbulence. Required separation behind the Boeing is 5 nautical miles.
George’s Point of View
Trailing behind an aircraft, wake turbulence is made up of multiple force drafts including wingtip vortices and jetwash. Jetwash is jet engine gas output which is turbulent but of short term but wingtip vortices can remain for up to three minutes.
Picture, if you will, invisible speed bumps made of wind that could knock your car off the road trailing the car in front of you. If this were a factor with cars, tailgating would be a completely different thing.
A cockpit voice recorder of the pilots responses will clearly indicate if the plane in the rear of the situation runs into the leading aircraft’s wake. What officials are questioning here are the actions and responses of LAX Air Traffic Control, which placed these two jets close enough to be endangered.
On January 19, maybe Air Traffic Control error put the Eagle jet less than three miles from the 767, but the pilot managed to stay out of the other jet’s wake. LAX denies this is a case of inexperience and maybe they are correct, because the worst case scenario crash did not happen. Maybe it would have happened if the jet following were flying at lower altitude.
What matters is that the flight landed safely and whether it was ATC or the pilot, someone did something right because both flights made it to the ground safely.