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Another Potentially Catastrophic Near Miss at a US Airport Between FedEx and Southwest Planes

Another Potentially Catastrophic Near Miss at a US Airport Between FedEx and Southwest Planes

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg promoted….Transit Equity Day.

Less than one month ago, an American Airlines plane crossed about 1,000 feet ahead of a Delta flight about to depart from New York’s Kennedy International Airport. Only a quick-acting pilot prevented this near-miss from being a transportation disaster.

Now there has been another near miss, which could have led to a catastrophic collision between a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines plane at a Texas airport on Saturday.

Aviation officials are investigating a near-collision between a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest passenger flight at a Texas airport on Saturday.

The cargo plane had to abort its landing as the Southwest flight was cleared to depart on the same runway, officials said.

A voice reportedly from an air traffic control recording is heard warning: “Southwest abort. FedEx is on the go.”

The planes were under 1,000ft (304m) apart, a flight-tracking service said.

The FedEx jet – a Boeing 767 cargo plane – had been cleared to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at 06:40 local time (11:40 GMT) on Saturday morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

But an air traffic controller cleared Southwest Flight 708 for departure from the same runway with the FedEx crew about three miles away, flight data interpreted by FlightRadar24 shows.

Once again, disaster was averted by another quick-acting pilot.

The FedEx plane aborted its landing and “initiated a climb out,” or go-around, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out,” the FAA said in a statement. “The Southwest flight departed safely.”

Data from Flight Radar shows the FedEx plane flew over the Southwest plane at an altitude of 75 feet while the Southwest plane was 4 feet above the ground, possibly making them within 71 feet of each other.

“FedEx 1432, climb and maintain 3,000. When able, you can turn left heading 080,” the controller says. “Southwest 708, you can turn left heading 170.”

Experts say such incidents are increasing in number at an alarming rate.

Aviation expert and former American Airlines pilot Juan Browne said: ‘These sort of incidents are increasing at an alarming rate.

‘There’s a huge turnover in the industry, not only among pilots but amongst air traffic controllers, mechanics, mainters, rampers. And with the state of hiring practices and training today and the relentless effort to do things faster, cheaper and more efficiently we’re just one radio call away from having the biggest aviation disaster in history.’

In both the JFK and Austin-Bergstrom incidents, experts have said directions issued by air traffic controllers appear to have been an issue.

In a technical breakdown of the circumstances around the near miss in Austin, Browne said the Southwestern aircraft should not have been cleared for takeoff when the FedEx flight was approaching to land – particularly given the poor weather and low visibility.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was promoting….Transit Equity Day.

The brainchild of labor leaders, advocates for public transit and social justice, and greens across the country, the day highlights the need for and benefits of a reliable, accessible, safe, and climate-resilient transportation system. Last year, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg publicly commemorated Transit Equity Day, cautioning that poor transportation policies could “reinforce racial and economic inequality by dividing or isolating neighborhoods.”

We do not have serious leaders, which will eventually have catastrophic consequences because eventually, someone’s reflexes will be too slow, and the luck will have run out.

And without competent personnel in aviation, people of all races, genders, and sexual preferences will be killed in preventable accidents. Death is the ultimate “equity.”


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Really gives you confidence that the FAA knows what it’s ‘doing …NOT!

When air traffic controllers screw up there is little pilots can do. Pilots rely on these controllers to keep them safe from each other.

    Not entirely true. It is always the pilot’s responsibility to keep the aircraft safe.

    While there are times there is little the pilot can do, this was not one of them. It is incumbent on the pilot to listen to all necessary radio frequencies and challenge clearances that appear unsafe. As I commented below, it’s disappointing the Southwest plane didn’t make the call, “Uh, tower, that would be a bad idea.” The FedEx pilot was doing what he was supposed to and took it around.

      NotCoach in reply to GWB. | February 7, 2023 at 5:22 pm

      The two aircraft came within less than 100 feet of colliding. This is a razor thin margin, and all because the controller screwed up. The pilot only reacted to a potential disaster, and just barely avoided it.

        Actually, the FedEx pilot did exactly what he should have. He was paying attention and decided “Nope! That’s not safe!” Kudos to him.
        Based on the information below, the SW pilot thought a 90 second lead was enough from the hold line… but it wasn’t.

          NotCoach in reply to GWB. | February 8, 2023 at 12:01 pm

          Yes, kudos to the FedEx pilot, but you are missing the point. A call this close could have just as easily ended in disaster because the controller screwed up. Pilots are entirely subordinate to controllers. When a controller tells you to do something you do it. And in a situation like this the FedEx pilot did not know there was a problem until it was ALMOST too late.

          Pilots are entirely subordinate to controllers.
          Absolutely not true. The PIC is ALWAYS holding primary responsibility for the safety of the aircraft and any passengers. Period. That should have been drilled into you in pilot training. And I guarantee that if there had been a collision, one of the findings would have been “pilot error” for at least one of the crews. If the pilot tells an aircraft at 1,000 feet to descend 2,000 feet and hold at present position, the pilot flyig his aircraft into the ground is in the wrong.

          And in a situation like this the FedEx pilot did not know there was a problem until it was ALMOST too late.
          That’s because the clearance was given when it was already almost too late. It wasn’t because everything was hunky-dory until some later point. It was because the controller screwed up by giving that clearance with such a small separation in those conditions. The controller set up the disaster with almost no time for correction.

          Let me reiterate, the FedEx pilot deserves kudos not for some heroic act to save everyone, but for doing what he is supposed to be doing: paying attention and acting responsibly. The SW pilot, not so much.

      coyote in reply to GWB. | February 8, 2023 at 8:34 am

      I’m not sure what radios you’re listening to, but I can only listen to one at a time. On the ground, there’s a standard sequence you use: weather, clearance delivery, ground, tower. Nowhere does a departing flight listen to approach.

      What a departing flight can and should do is look to see if there’s incoming traffic. I always do that because people make mistakes. But as far as listening to “all necessary radio frequencies” goes, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

        If you can only listen to one at a time, then you are likely not an airline pilot or a military one. When flying in heavy traffic areas you always have at least two radios you’re listening intently to. I usually had four (one of those was often very quiet, but not always) – 2 UHF, 1 VHF, and HF, plus intercom. Sometimes the UHF and VHF were flipped around. I tried to make it a habit to have tower up while on approach, just to hear things like “Sure, you can take off in front of that landing airplane.”

        No, we often had too much going on to listen to approach when prepping for TO. I will admit that. (One of the reasons I hated eliminating the navigator position was that he usually had his head clear of other obligations and could do something like monitor approach.)

“Buttigieg Defends Job Performance By Reminding Everyone He’s Gay”

Two, maybe three years ago Tucker Carlson did a segment about diversity hires,, guess where?? Air traffic controllers. He provided some details about people with terrific experience being passed over for other much less qualified candidates.

He updated all that pretty recently.. it is appalling. And I am obligated to take flight to visit family for Easter.. I am very concerned.

    90A in reply to amwick. | February 8, 2023 at 9:20 am

    One of those Affirmative Action hires almost put Eva Air 15 into Mt. Wilson, CA out if LAX on 16 December 2016. It also had an equal chance of hitting an Air Canada flight during the incident, the Oblunder Administration had the FAA erase all ATC test scores & go the AA route just to promote ‘diversity’.

    Just like medical profession & others requiring education expertise, & knowledge; I want the very best regardless of race; not a AA hire

In fairness to transit equity day, those planes almost became a physics equation on inelastic collisions.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to healthguyfsu. | February 7, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    This isn’t quite gelled, but… there’s kinda three layers of dealing with things:

    the feelz — emotional / social
    doing stuff — systems n protocols
    the realz — physics

    It’s kinda a Maslow’s heirarchy. You can deal with the higher stuff, when the lower stuff is taken care of. Our Betters(tm) like Mayor Pete are All About Teh Feelz — that’s a song right? it’s all about the feelz, the feelz, the feelz / all about teh feelz — which works fine when the stuff it depends on works.

    So, let’s go hire so we can feel better about ourselves, and they can feel better about themselves. Doesn’t matter whether they can do the thing? Someone will make it work.

    Of course, when somebody doesn’t cover for their crap physics wins, and someplace gets sky-mulched with a lightly-toasted blend of human parts and aluminum. Only deplorables live under flight paths, so no matter — we can feel fine about that, too. They’re just getting what they deserve.

I think it happens more than you think. I have been on a plane landing in Detroit that I saw the blue runway lights and he pulled back up. I was that was strange. After a few minutes the pilot got on the intercom and said there was congestion on the runway and pull up. We were seconds from touchdown.

Another place I like to fly in to is DC Reagan. Always like looking at the monuments when landing. On one approach I noticed the monuments were a lot closer than normal. The pilot aborted the landing and flew over the river instead because of the runway.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to MarkSmith. | February 7, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    If you saw blue lights he was going around so as not to land on a taxiway.

      I don’t think we were coming down on the taxi way, but it was an indicator how low we were. It reminded me of touch and go. He really was nailing it to get us back up.

      I did that flight 28 weeks straight so I had that normal feeling when we were landing and it was Sh&%, what just happened. When you fly a lot, you get to know your pilots especially the Navy ones. After awhile, you start to know the crew, too. We had fun teasing one of the pilots on his hard landing. Been on some fun rides especially in high winds where we had to crab our way down to adjust a the last minute and small commuter planes (prop jobs) in snow storms. I probably have been up and down over 500 times

      If he saw blue lights and he WASN’T in the cockpit, they were probably lined up on the runway. If the ~pilot~ was lining up with blue lights, that would be a big problem in a number of ways, not least would be the mental state of the pilot.

        Depends on whether (as a passenger, looking out just one side of the airplane) he could see just one row of blue lights going off in front of the airplane, or two. Two would be fine – they’re off to the side. Just one? Eep!

“the Southwestern aircraft should not have been cleared for takeoff when the FedEx flight was approaching to land – particularly given the poor weather and low visibility.”
Precision approaches typically allow planes to descend to an altitude of 200′ and 1/2 miles from the approach end of the runway, in clouds, a Category I approach, before either finally seeing the runway or declaring a missed approach.
The FedEx plane almost certainly was cleared for Category II, i.e., 100′ and 1/4 mile from the approach end.
Thus, the FedEx plane would not see another plane on the runway until it was very, very close.
It was the tower, that cleared Southwest to take the runway, when the FedEx was on “short final”, that was the bad guy.
And who was the tower controller who did that?

2smartforlibs | February 7, 2023 at 2:07 pm

D & I hires are always a great move. sarc.

I think the best solution is to appoint VP Kommie Harris as Czar of the Air Traffic Controllers. She’ll make it her damn priority. Takin’ names and kickin’ butts, just like she did with the Southern Border. She’s a “Get S___ Done” kind of person. The problem is that her doofus boss is holding her back. Another clear case of systemic racism, if you ask me. Once the FAA gets a good dose of her diversity, equity and inclusion, those flights will run like clockwork, and we’ll be seeing a few more welcome dresses in the control towers. Flight safety and D,E,I will be the FAA’s new twin organizational goals.

You Go Kommie!

Transit Equity Day.
Because it’s important we achieve the Progressive fundamentalist dream of transhumanism and hedonism even if it kills us.

And, while it is the tower personnel’s job in this instance to keep those aircraft separated, it is ultimately the pilots’ job. And the FedEx pilot did what he had to – he as evidently listening to ALL the traffic on the frequencies and chose the safe action. I want to thump the Southwest co-pilot between the ears for not hearing the “Cleared on final” call for his runway. There should have been a call on tower freq. asking, “Tower, Southwest, did you just clear us onto the runway in front of a landing aircraft on 18R?”

It is Donald Trump’s Ronald Reagan’s fault. He should have not fired all of the traffic controllers.

I’m an instrument rated private pilot. I listened to the ATC tape on Live ATC. The SW airlines was cleared to take off and was advised there was traffic on a 3-mile final. That means, 3-miles from the runway. That’s pretty common at busy airports, at least with good visibility. Listening to the tape it sounds to me like the SW plane didn’t expedite the takeoff like the controller though he would.

    Dathurtz in reply to dockthedog. | February 7, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    Wait…is that really how it works? “You can go now, but if you don’t go really quickly, then hundreds of people will die.”

    I am not a pilot and fly infrequently. The way this is described is horrifying.

    coyote in reply to dockthedog. | February 8, 2023 at 8:49 am

    That’s a clear ATC failure. At 150 knots and 3 miles, that’s 90 seconds, give or take. No competent ATC will clear that, especially in iffy weather. Not all ATCs are competent.

    As far as Mr. Listentoallthefrequencies goes, he needs to take a couple flying lessons.

      I am a multi-engine instrument rated pilot. thanks.
      I regularly listened to 4 different radios, along with intercom.

    That’s information I hadn’t heard. And changes things a bit, for me. This means the SW crew knew about the potential.

    I had an offering like that once. The pilot and I looked at each other for the briefest moment before I responded, “Uh, thanks, we’ll wait.” In a fighter jet, taking off in front of a heavy? Yeah, I might jump on that – a rolling takeoff in afterburners. But never in a large aircraft.

    (And what about turbulence for the landing aircraft? 90 seconds would be fine separation normally, but you’ve got low ceilings and I don’t know what wind, and will those takeoff wakes sit on the wrong spot on the runway as the landing aircraft is trying to stay very level close to the ground? Yikes. (Maybe the tower had weather info saying they’d blow right off the runway, but…))

Juan Browne isn’t a former airline pilot. He still flies.

He has a quick reaction aviation youtube channel that’s top authoritative, can’t beat it.

    MajorWood in reply to rhhardin. | February 7, 2023 at 10:01 pm

    If you really want to get a sense of flying, watch Juan’s interview with the 777 pilot that lost a fan a couple of hundred miles from Hawaii. A lot of life lessons can be learned there.

    FWIW, blancolirio is my default youtube home page, and all of my other youtube pages link off of it. I am trying to think if I have ever seen a retraction from him, meaning, he doesn’t say anything unless he is pretty sure of it, or he qualifies the certainty of what he does or doesn’t know at the moment.

    And this was the first time that I have ever seen him agitated.

As to safety, there’s a lack of redundancy where there should be redundancy. If it depends on people performing perfectly, it won’t work.

It’s like systems and procedures in government. You want to make it so that the wrong people do the right thing.

There’s a mistake that I’ve noticed for years, which is sharply defined airways and altitudes. They should be adding a random offset in height and offset, not enough to reach another assigned airway but enough to reduce the odds of a misassigned airway 100% causing a collision.

I always added or subtracted a couple hundred feet from the conventional altitude for a bearing nonetheless.

    I’m a fan of FlightRadar24 & have noticed aircraft straying 10’s of feet above & below their assigned altitude. Seen a few near misses, too

    The reason you don’t do that is because your altimeter already does that for you. Even radar altimeters have some slop in them at altitude. If you decide to fly a few hundred feet off altitude because “just in case” and someone else does the same in the opposite direction (up to your down, say), and both altimeters are off by a hundred feet, then you’re no longer separated by altitude and might very well go bump.

    The reason for altitude separation going opposite directions was for precisely that reason – so you never had the possibility of two planes using the same airway, co-altitude, going opposite directions.

    Altitude separation going the same direction is only really applicable at lower altitudes where vastly different speeds (because vastly different aircraft) are in play. And ATC assigns altitudes on that basis, with quite a bit of separation.

    In congested airspace, such as around large airports, well, just like extremely busy highways, you need to keep your head on a proverbial swivel as your safety is never really someone else’s responsibility.

“‘There’s a huge turnover in the industry, not only among pilots but amongst air traffic controllers, mechanics, mainters, rampers…”

Hey, no worries. There are plenty of new graduates hitting the job market, all of whom believe that both the eight-hour workday and geometry are white conspiracies, and they all need jobs.

as can happen in the aviation business, those fed-x pilots earned their entire annual salary in a few moments of clear, decisive action

good job, gentlemen and thank you

Are you ready for air traffic controllers to be replaced by AIs?

If the FedEx pilot says nothing or his transmission to the Southwest plane gets blocked for whatever reason the Southwest plane would have climbed right in front of the FedEx plane. That would have been a major disaster.

I wonder if the crew told the passengers on the SouthWest plane what happened.

“Ladies and Gentleman we are now on our way to our destination. Almost died because of Air Traffic Control but we managed to cheat death at the last second. Round of drinks is on us. God knows we need one too.”

    Oversoul Of Dusk in reply to TheOldZombie. | February 8, 2023 at 7:32 am

    The FedEx pilot (not the tower) asked the SW plane to abort takeoff, Evidently SW was already going too fast; they didn’t have enough runway left to abort. SW DID climb in front of FedEx.

    FedEx aborted their landing and turned left, while SW initially turned right.

    but we the other airplane managed to cheat death at the last second

I am super happy to see so many pilots and so many Blancolirio fans here on LegalInsurrection. I’m training for my instrument rating, and view nearly all Blancolirio’s videos.

We should have our own sub-legalinsurrection !

BierceAmbrose | February 8, 2023 at 7:14 pm

I found out yesterday that FedEx hub in Knoxville completely disrupted n loosin stuff for over a week.

Not sure I want things so integrated failing conveyor controls screw up air traffic. (/adjust tinfoil hat)