Port of Seattle police are investigating the theft of 1,000 feet of copper wire from the approach lighting to one of the three runways at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which owns the equipment, said the wire was taken last week from lighting along the runway’s Instrument Landing System (ILS), which helps planes land in low visibility. He said to get the wiring, thieves would have had to make it past two fences, an outer fence maintained by the airport and an inner fence erected by the FAA.
The airport’s two other runways were not affected, he said.
Airport officials said the theft posed no danger to aircraft, because it affected only one runway and was on an approach seldom used in the winter.
“This kind of thing has happened before,” said Perry Cooper, airport spokesman. “It’s not something you want to see happen … but from an operational standpoint there was no effect.”
Cooper said the affected lighting is along an approach path immediately south of the airport, one that aircraft would use if they were landing from the south. But in winter, the typical approach to Sea-Tac is from the north, facing into prevailing winds from the south.
Aircraft typically land into the wind for safety and stability.
Gregor said it’s not clear what the stolen wire is worth, but that it is expected to be replaced by the end of next week.