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Cargo plane almost lands on top of departing Southwest flight at Austin Airport in near-miss

FedEx carrier and commercial aircraft were given clearance to use same runway

Helen Coffey
Monday 06 February 2023 12:43 GMT
The planes came within hundreds of metres of each other
The planes came within hundreds of metres of each other (Flight Radar 24)

A cargo plane and a commercial jet had a near-miss at Austin Airport after air traffic control (ATC) gave them clearance to use the same runway.

FedEx flight 1432 was told to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s Runway 18-Left at 6.40am on Saturday 4 February.

As the carrier was preparing to land, Southwest flight 708 was told to use the same runway for takeoff, according to a statement from the US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Flight tracking data shows the two aircraft pass very close to each other, with just 308m between them vertically at their closest point.

The FedEx Boeing 767 cargo plane pulled up and aborted landing at the last minute to ensure there was no collision with the Southwest Boeing 737.

The Southwest flight took off as planned, while the FedEx plane circled around and landed safely 12 minutes later.

It’s unclear whether the FedEx jet took evasive action because it was advised to do so by ATC, or whether the pilots made the call themselves.

The cargo flight, which had originally departed from Memphis, “safely landed after encountering an event just before landing at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday morning,” said a FedEx spokesperson.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have said they are investigating the incident; the NTSB told The Washington Post it was sending two investigators. The preliminary NTSB report could be published in 15 day’ time.

An Austin-Bergstrom International spokesperson also confirmed that the airport was willing to assist the investigation.

It’s not the first aviation close-call this year.

In January, a London-bound American Airlines jet taxi-ed across in front of a Delta aircraft that was taking off.

The Delta Boeing 737 came to a stop within 305 metres of the taxiing American Airlines Boeing 777 at around 8.45pm on Friday 13 January.

Air traffic control audio was shared on Twitter by flight watcher @xJonNYC.

“S***! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff plans! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff plans!” a controller says.

After the disaster was averted, the controller is heard letting out a big sigh.

According to the FAA, air traffic controllers “noticed another aircraft crossing the runway in front of the departing jetliner”.

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