Planes in Florida near a call were cleared to use the same runway

Photo of author

By admin

Federal investigators say an air traffic controller cleared one plane to land and another to take off from the same runway in Florida last month.

Federal investigators say an air traffic controller cleared a plane to take off from Sarasota, Florida, while an American Airlines plane was making its final approach to the same runway last month, prompting the American pilots to abandon their landing.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that the American and Air Canada Rouge planes were separated by six-tenths of a mile, about 900 meters (3,000 feet), at their closest point. That’s much further away than the planes in several recent close calls.

In its preliminary report, the safety board did not indicate the cause of the February 16 incident, but said it had formed a group to investigate the actions of air traffic controllers. The National Association of Air Traffic Controllers and the Federal Aviation Administration, which hires and trains controllers, are participating in the investigation, the NTSB said.

The first findings came a day after officials from the NTSB, FAA, airlines and airline unions gathered outside Washington, DC, for a “safety summit.”

According to an FAA reading of the summit sessions that were closed to the public and the press, a group that discussed air traffic recommended a more detailed examination of the data to find the causes and solutions for planes that are in the same track or near it at the same time. The FAA said it asked the industry to find technology to help air traffic controllers track equipment on the ground.

The NTSB is investigating six recent events involving the disputed use of the runway. The board did not launch any similar investigations in 2022 and only two in 2021, according to a spokesperson.

Overall runway incursions, as they’re called, are lower in the past six months than they were in the same period last year, according to FAA figures, but include the vast majority of incidents that are considered low or no risk.

In Sarasota, a controller cleared the American Airlines flight to land on runway 14 when the plane was about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the airport. When he was about 3 miles (5 kilometers) away, the controller cleared the Air Canada Rouge plane to take off from the same runway.

The American crew opted to cancel their landing, turn right, and return to land. No injuries were reported.

Leave a Comment