A Southwest Airlines flight aborted its landing Friday afternoon at Spokane International Airport to avoid hitting a plane on the ground.
The flight from Seattle to Spokane was three miles from the airport and preparing to land when air traffic controllers suddenly ordered it to stay in the air. A small airplane on the ground was too close to the runway.
Only one runway at the airport is open. The main runway is being resurfaced and is closed.
The Southwest flight was cleared for landing a little after 5 p.m. when officials in the control tower discovered that a privately-owned Cessna was in the way.
The Southwest plane circled the airport for several minutes until the Cessna moved, said Gary Miles, air traffic controller.
He said the Cessna’s student pilot had intended to fly to Walla Walla but wasn’t allowed to take off.
“The pilot wasn’t familiar with communications,” Miles said.Miles said Friday’s incident was not related to the runway closure.