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Near Miss for 2 Jets on a Las Vegas Runway

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Near Miss for 2 Jets on a Las Vegas Runway

Old 29th Sep 2005, 06:47
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Near Miss for 2 Jets on a Las Vegas Runway

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.
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Old 29th Sep 2005, 06:52
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Lightbulb

I only have a 35 year career in long-haul ops of which less than half would be in US airspace.

In that time, we've twice been cleared to cross/enter a runway on which an aircraft was taking off/landing. Both times would have come very close to a hit.

And they worry about pilot-induced runway incursions!?

G'day
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Old 29th Sep 2005, 16:23
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By my reckoning thats the 3rd one they have got away with in last year or so;sorry to say this sort of luck doesn't usually last forever.
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Old 29th Sep 2005, 16:24
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539 / 593.

Begs the question.
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Old 29th Sep 2005, 16:30
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Callsign confusion is a real problem, and I can understand that the ATC got confused.
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Old 29th Sep 2005, 16:31
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> 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.

Anyone else hope that this is a reporter's mistake and not an accurate account of the FAA spokesperson?
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Old 29th Sep 2005, 19:15
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CLear cross active at bravo - a.t.c proceed
sultan of omans 747 lands fifty feet in front -- ********it
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Old 30th Sep 2005, 03:39
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What happens in Vegas.... Stays in Vegas.....

Guess not.
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Old 30th Sep 2005, 06:54
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Twice I've been cleared to cross an active runway by tower with an aircraft visible on short final and on another occasion had to abort because another aircrew acknowledged a clearance to hold short but kept taxiing right across the active with me on takeoff roll.

The lesson here is that everyone, pilots and controllers, can make a mistake and if you're not paying attention to what's going on around you and listening up for mistakes like these you're part of the probelm and not part of the solution.
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Old 30th Sep 2005, 15:09
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> 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.

Anyone else hope that this is a reporter's mistake and not an accurate account of the FAA spokesperson?
According to the CBC:
"They were more than 100 feet apart, we don't know how much more," FAA spokesman Donn Walker said. "The Air Canada jet had already finished crossing the runway when the America West jet flew over the runway at about 100 feet."
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