US aviation authorities to investigate latest runway incident

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US aviation authorities said late on Monday they were investigating a fresh incident involving two airplanes cleared to use the same runway that forced one to abandon a landing and renewed safety questions.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating a string of recent runway incursions that have attracted national attention.

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In the February 16 incident, an air traffic controller cleared an Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321 for takeoff at Florida’s Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport after clearing an American Airlines Boeing 737 to land on the same runway.

The FAA said the American Airlines flight crew discontinued the landing after the controller advised that the Air Canada aircraft was departing.

The aircraft were about 3,100 feet (945 meters) apart when the American Airlines jet began its climb-out, the FAA said.

Air Canada and American Airlines did not immediately comment.

The FAA will hold a March 15 safety summit and is forming a team of experts to review airline safety after several recent near-miss incidents.

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen, in a “call to action” memo last month, said the safety review team will “examine the US aerospace system’s structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts.” Nolen is also set to testify Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee.

NTSB and FAA said last week they were investigating a February 27 “close call” runway incursion at Boston Logan Airport that occurred when a Learjet 60 began a takeoff roll as a JetBlue airplane was preparing to land on an intersecting runway.

The FAA said the Learjet pilot took off without clearance while the JetBlue flight was preparing to land. The pilot of the JetBlue aircraft took evasive action and initiated a climb-out as the Learjet crossed the intersection.

Last month, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines jet that nearly collided on February 4 in Austin, Texas were “probably under 100 feet vertically from each other.”

The FedEx plane had been set to land on a runway on which a Southwest Airlines jet was also cleared to depart. Homendy said it could have resulted in “terrible tragedy.”

In January, a Delta Air Lines jet abandoned its take-off at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after controllers noticed a London-bound American Airlines widebody had crossed from an adjacent taxiway without clearance, the NTSB said. That incident is also under investigation.

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