Planes in Florida were allowed to use the same runway

Federal investigators say an air traffic controller cleared a 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, leading 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 3,000 feet (900 meters) — at their closest point. That’s much farther than planes on several recent close calls.

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

The initial 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 closed to the public and the press, a group that discussed air traffic recommended further examination of the data to find causes and solutions for planes on or near it. same track at the same time. The FAA said it has asked industry to find technology to help air traffic controllers track equipment on the ground.

The NTSB is investigating six recent events involving conflicting runway use. The council opened no similar investigations in 2022 and only two in 2021, according to a spokesperson.

According to FAA figures, overall runway incursions, as they are called, are lower in the past six months than the same time last year, but these include the vast majority of incidents deemed to be at 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 from the airport. While about 3 miles (5 kilometers) away, the controller cleared the Air Canada Rouge aircraft to take off from the same runway.

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

ABC News

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