The NTSB and FAA have begun investigating another case of a near collision in the U.S. On Saturday, a Boeing 767 cargo airplane operated by FedEx discontinued its landing at Austin Bergstrom International Airport after an air traffic controller cleared a Boeing 737 operated by Southwest Airlines to depart on the same runway.
According to preliminary information, air traffic control cleared FedEx Flight 1432 to land on Runway 18L at about 6:40 a.m. local time after the aircraft began its approach “several” miles from the airport, the FAA said in a statement. Shortly before the FedEx aircraft was due to land, the controller cleared Southwest Flight 708 to depart.
The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climbout. The Southwest flight departed safely.
By Monday, the NTSB had issued one short statement about the incident. “The NTSB is investigating a surface event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday, a possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx,” it said.
The incident stands to raise more unease among the traveling public after a January 13 incident at New York JFK Airport in which an American Airlines Boeing 777 improperly crossed a runway on which a Delta Air Lines 737 had already begun its takeoff roll. The Delta jet managed to stop about 1,000 feet from where the American 777 had crossed.
In the most recent case, a LiveATC recording indicated that Austin air traffic control had cleared the FedEx airplane to land less than a minute before clearing the Southwest jet to take off. The controller did notify the Southwest crew of traffic three miles from the runway threshold. However, the FedEx crew, not ATC, told the Southwest Airlines crew to abort about 25 seconds after the 737 began its takeoff roll. Seconds later, air traffic control told Southwest Flight 708 to turn right but by that time it had started its rotation.
The FedEx 767 aborted its landing as it flew some 75 feet above the Southwest 737 and executed a go-around. The Southwest flight continued to its scheduled destination of Cancun, Mexico.