National Transportation Safety Board
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The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident involving an aircraft taking off from a closed runway at Washington Dulles International Airport.
On September 12, 2007, about 3:13 a.m. EDT, the Dulles tower controller cleared a Learjet 35 (N66NJ) for takeoff from a closed unlit runway. Earlier in the evening, runway 19R was closed for surveying and the runway lights were turned off. The tower controller instructed N66NJ to taxi into position and hold, then cleared it for takeoff. The departure controller at Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control, located in Warrenton, Virginia, noticed the radar target depart runway 19R and asked the tower controller if the runway was open, and was told no.
The closure was advertised on the automated terminal information service and the tower controller placed an X on the tower's ground radar display as a reminder of the closure. The closure also was annotated on the tower status display.
There were no injuries or damage to the aircraft.
At the time of the incident, there was one tower controller in the cab; the second controller assigned to the shift was on break.
The FAA has classified the incident as an operational error. This is considered a runway incursion as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.