FAA, NTSB investigate near-collision at Austin airport - Firenewsfeed!

FAA, NTSB investigate near-collision at Austin airport

FAA, NTSB investigate near-collision at Austin airport

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation) — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident that occurred in Austin early Saturday morning, where two planes nearly collided midair over an airport runway at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

A FedEx cargo airplane was attempting to land at the airport when it had to change course after a second plane was cleared to depart from the same runway, the FAA said.

“The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out,” the FAA said in a statement.

The Boeing 767 cargo airplane was several miles from the airport when it was cleared to land, according to the FAA. But just before it was expected to land, an air traffic controller gave the go-ahead for an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines headed to Cancun, Mexico, to take off.

In a tweet Saturday, the National Transportation Safety Board described it as a “possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx.”

The two planes came within 75 feet of each other, with the FedEx cargo airplane flying right over the Southwest airplane, according to flight tracker data — the near-collision can be seen in a video from flight radar 24.

The air traffic controller tried to stop the Southwest aircraft from taking off, but it was ultimately the FedEx cargo airplane that thwarted the collision.

The FAA said the Southwest flight, a Boeing 737 that carries an estimated 200 people, was able to depart safely, and a spokesperson for FedEx said the plane was eventually able to land safely.

Shannon Davis, a spokesperson for FedEx, said in an emailed statement, “FedEx Express Flight 1432 from Memphis, Tenn. to Austin, Texas safely landed after encountering an event just before landing at Austin Bergstrom International Airport this morning.”

Both FedEx and Southwest have deferred to the FAA for further comment.

The FAA and NTSB said they are investigating the incident.

The Austin-Bergstrom International told the Associated Press that it was “aware of the Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation into the discontinued landing of a flight. We will assist our FAA partners and their investigation as necessary.”

This is the second high-profile near-miss to happen so far this year.

A similar close call occurred at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, in January, where a Delta airplane had to come to an immediate halt in the middle of takeoff due to an American Airlines airplane taxing across the runway in front of it.

An investigation into the New York near-collision is still under investigation by the FAA and the NTSB.

NewsNation spoke with an aviation expert to offer some insight on what could be going on now that two similar, very dangerous, instances like that have occurred.

“Despite all our systems, the importance of visual cues by pilots to take action also suggests there’s some fatigue happening, perhaps in air traffic control or flight deck, where bad decisions are being made,” Aviation expert Joseph Schwieterman said.

The FAA may release some preliminary information as soon as Monday, but a full investigation could take a year and a half.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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