Thursday, September 29, 2005

Near Miss for 2 Jets on a Las Vegas Runway

By MATTHEW L. WALD


WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 - An America West passenger jet taking off from Las Vegas missed hitting an Air Canada jet by about 100 feet last Thursday night, according to a preliminary report, because a controller in the tower confused two planes and issued conflicting instructions.
The controller has been taken off duty and sent for more training, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and the episode is under investigation.
America West Flight 539, departing for Cleveland, was cleared for takeoff about 11 p.m. local time on Runway 25 Right. At the same time, Air Canada Flight 593 had landed on Runway 25 Left, a parallel runway, on a flight from Toronto, and had been cleared to taxi to the terminal, across 25 Right. A collision was averted because the America West plane was airborne by the time it reached the point where the Air Canada plane was crossing.
The America West and Air Canada planes were both midsized Airbus jets that carry more than 100 passengers.
An F.A.A. spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency did not believe that the America West plane had flown directly over the Air Canada plane, but that investigators were still trying to determine how close the two jets came.
Donn Walker, an F.A.A. spokesman, said the tower controller had cleared the America West plane for takeoff. Then a different America West plane, a Boeing 757, taxiing behind Flight 539, asked for a brief delay. The controller responded by revoking the takeoff clearance for the 757 - although he had never issued one for that plane - and cleared the Air Canada plane to cross the runway. Meanwhile Flight 539, duly cleared, rolled down the runway for takeoff.
"Our system is set up as much as possible to absorb human error and still not have a collision," Mr. Walker said.
He said, as did others, that the aviation agency had computer systems in place that would alert controllers to some kinds of human error, like pilots not following directions because they misheard an instruction or got lost in the field, but that it did not have an automatic system for warning controllers about confusing two airplanes.
In July at Kennedy International Airport in New York, a DC-8 cargo plane nearly hit a fully loaded Boeing 767 that blundered onto the active runway. The tower controller could not spot the problem because of heavy rain and clouds that cut visibility to near zero and made radar ineffective. The aviation agency has a system for seeing through clouds and rain, using signals given off by the planes themselves, as opposed to radar, which bounces electromagnetic energy off the planes' skins. But the agency has not installed it at Kennedy.

6 Comments:

Blogger Abi said...

time for another post...:)

Monday, 03 October, 2005  
Blogger banjodude said...

Yeehaw!

Tuesday, 04 October, 2005  
Blogger banjodude said...

How are ya?

Tuesday, 04 October, 2005  
Blogger Abi said...

good, you?

Wednesday, 05 October, 2005  
Blogger Jordo said...

nathaniel- are ya'll guys going to the fiddlers convention thingy??? I think we might go.

Wednesday, 05 October, 2005  
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Wednesday, 11 April, 2007  

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