Foggy weather and damaged equipment lead to delays at TLH Airport

The Tallahassee International Airport's localizer was damaged in a crash early Monday morning, when a man allegedly "hopped fences" onto the airfield, and drove a FedEx vehicle into the equipment.
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 15, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Foggy, low-visibility weather and a damaged piece of equipment at the Tallahassee International Airport led to multiple flight delays Wednesday morning.

The localizer was damaged in a crash early Monday morning, when a man allegedly "hopped fences" onto the airfield, and drove a FedEx truck into the equipment.

The localizer is one part of the Instrument Landing System, or ILS, that helps planes land in low-visibility situations, providing lateral guidance onto the runway.

Director of Aviation David Pollard said after fog was in the area Tuesday night, the airport had catch-up to do with flights this morning.

"As the visibility started to be reduced last night, some may have already been in the air, and I think one may have been diverted over to Jacksonville for example, and some they held at their original point, Delta for example," said Pollard.

Although the localizer is only used for landing, flights that were not able to land in Tallahassee on Tuesday night contributed to delays Wednesday morning.

A multitude of factors contributed to the delays and inability to land. Pollard said the ultimate decision to land an aircraft rests with the pilot and can depend on the weather, the equipment of the plane and the certification of the flight crew.

The new localizer arrived in Tallahassee around 2 p.m., after a team drove it over from Oklahoma City.

"Then the testing that they'll need to do, to actually install it, and then once it's installed we actually have to bring an FAA aircraft in to flight check the new localizer," Pollard said. "So, a lot of steps remain, but once we get it here, we're working with the FAA to expedite that as quickly as we can."

TLH hopes to have the new equipment up and running by the end of the month.

How the man allegedly broke into the airfield remains under investigation.

Pollard said the airport has many security measures, including camera surveillance and access control systems, physical deterrence such as the fence line, and a human element of random patrols around the airport, with some of them working behind the scenes.

The trespasser Monday morning was located within seven minutes, and TPD was on scene and made the arrest in another seven minutes.

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