A passenger jet last month was cleared by air traffic controllers to land on the same runway of a Sarasota, Florida, airport that a second plane had also been cleared to take off from, officials said Thursday, detailing another in a string of similar close calls at U.S. airports this year.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, at about 9 p.m. EST on Feb. 16, Air Canada Rouge Flight No. 1633 bound for Toronto, Canada, was cleared to take off from the airport’s Runway 14. However, American Airlines Flight No. 2172 from Charlotte, North Carolina, had been also 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 to each other 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 aboard, the NTSB reported. There were no injuries.
The NTSB did not speculate on what caused the mix-up. The agency said it had put together an air traffic control group to investigate the incident, with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
The preliminary report comes just one day after the FAA held an emergency safety summit to address the myriad of recent near misses on airport runways, the first such emergency summit in 14 years.
“I think I speak for all of us, and certainly 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 latest occurring on March 7 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia, when a plane taxied across a runway that another plane had been cleared to take off from.
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