PHILADELPHIA -- A day after an SUV crashed through a fence and sped onto a runway, causing an approaching plane to have to pull up quickly, police are investigating whether there are ways to make the airport more secure.
Kenneth Richard Mazik is being charged with disrupting operations at the airport and endangering safety there, the U.S. attorney said Friday.
The case has no connection to terrorism, investigators said. Mazik, 24, also faces DUI and reckless endangerment charges.
The SUV caused pilots and air-traffic controllers to scramble and make last-minute adjustments in the air and on the ground, affecting dozens of aircraft.
One flight was about 20 seconds from touching down when it had to pull up suddenly after a controller saw the vehicle on the tarmac in foggy conditions, said Don Chapman, president of Philadelphia local of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "It's a very close call," he said.
Authorities estimated that 75 aircraft had to circle the airport to prepare for landing and 80 departures were delayed.
According to a flurry of radio transmissions, pilots struggled to figure out what was going on. One on the ground radioed: "I don't trust this guy. Are you OK if we pull off the runway in case he comes right at us?"
Airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said that the facility's perimeter is secure and meets federal standards and that this was the first case of a vehicle getting onto the runway at the airport.
Authorities will be conducting a thorough review to see if security improvements can be made, said Chief Insp. Joe Sullivan, who heads the Philadelphia Police Department's homeland security and counterterrorism division.
Investigators are gathering video, listening to audio and gathering data collected by ground radar as part of their review, Sullivan said. They have also been interviewing police, construction workers, airport personnel and others.