Last month, a passenger plane was cleared by air traffic controllers to land on the same runway at an airport in Sarasota, Florida that a second plane had also been cleared to take off, officials said Thursday, detailing another in a series of similar close calls at US airports this year.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, at around 9 p.m. EST on February 16, Air Canada Rouge flight #1633 to Toronto, Canada was cleared to take off from runway 14 at the airport. However, American Airlines Flight 2172 from Charlotte, North Carolina had also been cleared to land on the same runway.
The pilots of the American Airlines flight eventually aborted their landing, the NTSB said in a preliminary report. The closest the two planes got was within six-tenths of a mile, the NTSB said.
The Air Canada flight was carrying 188 passengers and six crew members, while the American Airlines flight had 172 passengers and six crew members on board, the NTSB reported. There are no casualties.
The NTSB did not speculate on the cause of the confusion. The agency said it had set up an air traffic control group to investigate the incident, with help from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
The preliminary report comes just a day after the FAA held an emergency security summit to address myriad recent near misses on airport runways, the first such emergency summit in 14 years.
“I think I speak for all of us, and certainly for the traveling public, that these events are concerning,” Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said at the summit.
There have been at least nine such close calls so far this year, the last occurrence on March 7 at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, Virginia, when a plane taxied onto a runway from which another plane had been cleared to take off.
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