Damaged equipment at TLH could prevent some flights from landing

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 14, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- An incident at the Tallahassee International Airport early Monday morning could leave keep some flights from landing for weeks.

Aaron Lennihan was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle after being found driving a FedEx truck on the runway.

The incident happened just after 1:00 Monday morning when airport security detected an individual out on the airfield; the person was detected within seven minutes, and the Tallahassee Police Department made the arrest Tallahassee Police Department made the arrest seven minutes later.

"Some of the damages, as that individual drove around and drove off the edges of pavement, caused some ruts and things with the tires of the vehicle, and went off the end of the runway actually and crashed into what's called the localizer," said Director of Aviation David Pollard.

The 'localizer' helps planes land in low visibility. Without it, the FAA is instituting different procedures, such as a circling descent, to keep as many flights coming in and out as possible.

Since it was destroyed, two flights have been delayed due to weather, but not specifically from this lack of that piece of equipment.

TPD, the TSA, the FAA, and FedEx are all involved in the investigation.

"We're working with those partners to identify how that happened. In addition I've ordered a comprehensive security assessment of that entire area to look at opportunities for possibly improving or even strengthening our security posture over there, more than what it is," said Pollard.

A team of drivers is transporting the new 'localizer' from Oklahoma City, driving 15 hours through the night, to get the new equipment in Tallahassee by Wednesday afternoon.

TLH hopes to have the new device in operation by the end of the month. The number of affected flights will depend on the weather. Other procedures suggested by the FAA will depend upon flight crews' certifications and the equipment on each plane landing.

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