Landing on runway closed for construction is careless and reckless

The pilot in FAA v Lane landed at Louisiana Regional Airport (L38) despite a NOTAM the runway was closed for construction, big yellow X’s over the numbers and barricades on the runway. The FAA ordered a 60-day pilot certificate suspension for careless and reckless operation under FAR 91.13(a). The pilot appealed to the NTSB, which acts as a court to review FAA certificate orders.

The pilot (representing himself) argued the closure of a runway does not preclude landing and he did not violate the NOTAM: “I challenge the Administrator to show me … where … this NOTAM says no landing on this runway.” He also argued he was at least 1,100 feet from any worker so no one was really in danger.

The NTSB disagreed: “operating on a closed runway is careless or reckless, regardless of whether the landing harmed individuals or property.” The potential for harm is all that is required. In addition, ATC standard “procedures used to inform a pilot that landing on a closed runway is at the pilot’s own risk are instructions on how to deal with an insistent pilot, and not any form of de facto clearance.”

The pilot’s also argued that ATC procedures advising pilots that landing on a closed runway “is at your own risk” meant he was permitted to land. Not so, said the NTSB: “ATC procedures

The case may be read in full at