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EdHoldenRamiroMartinezEd Holden and Ramiro Martinez, Miami Tower/TRACON

On May 21, 2013, Miami Tower/TRACON (MIA) controllers Ed Holden and Ramiro Martinez were working local control and ground control, respectively, when a pilot misunderstood taxi instructions and inadvertently began moving onto an active runway. Martinez needed to reposition N870AG on the airport to allow for another aircraft to pass by.

Martinez: I’m going to cross you over to the south side onto Lima so I can get UPS out of the way. Uh, taxi and hold short of 8L on Kilo 2.

Martinez: November 870 Alpha Golf, cross runway 8L and I want you to turn left on Lima, eastbound.

N870AG: Turning, cross 8L, left, and turn, turn left on Lima.

Martinez: November 870 Alpha Golf, hold short of runway 8L at Taxiway Zulu.

N870AG: Hold short of Zulu.

N870AG correctly held short of Taxiway Zulu as instructed. Holden then cleared American Airlines 2145 for takeoff on Runway 8R at the same time as Martinez told N870AG to cross Runway 8L to return to the side of the airport he needed to be on. Instead of crossing Runway 8L, N870AG began taxiing onto Runway 8R, putting him on a direct collision course with American 2145.

Martinez: Hey! Hey. Stop, stop, uh, November 70 Golf, hold right there, hold right there. November 870 Alpha Golf, stop.

Holden: Delta 18, correction American 2145, cancel your takeoff clearance.

AA2145: Cancel takeoff clearance.

Martinez: November 870 Alpha Golf, ground.

N870AG: Let’s see, uh, ground.

Martinez: November 870 Alpha Golf, you were instructed to cross Runway 8L.

N870AG: It’s already crossing 8L.

Martinez: No sir, 8L is to your left.

As veteran air traffic controllers – Holden 28 years of experience and Martinez 24 years – both have been trained to constantly monitor for confused pilots and possible translation issues. Because of their experience and cognizance, Holden and Martinez were able to prevent a disaster at MIA.

  • To listen to the highlights of the audio recording of this event, please click HERE.
  • A transcript of this recording can be found HERE.
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