TX - Jets come within 500 feet of each other at DF-W

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08/16/2001 - Updated 07:35 PM ET TX - Jets come within 500 feet of each other at DF-W

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) A Delta pilot hurried his takeoff to avoid another jet that was crossing the same runway Thursday, officials said. The planes missed each other by 500 feet.

The Delta 737 had been cleared for departure about 10:30 a.m. at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said.

A Continental 737 that had just landed was told to cross over the same runway, airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said.

"The pilots were aware by the time they got on the runway that the Delta plane was on the runway and they expedited their crossing of that runway," Johnson said.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said the Delta jet scraped its tail on the runway in the pilot's attempt to rise over the Continental jet. It returned to the airport for an inspection by ground crews.

Herwig said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the incident. Flight data recorders on both planes were shipped to an NTSB laboratory.

Johnson said there were 55 passengers and five crew members aboard the Continental flight from Cleveland. Passengers exited at the gate normally and the plane later departed for Newark, N.J., after routine checks, he said.

The Delta flight to Oakland carried 125 passengers and a crew of five. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2001/08/16/jets-close.htm

-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), August 17, 2001


I like this understatement: "and they expedited their crossing of that runway".

Radio story this a.m. said "controller error". Wonder what really went wrong?

-- (mjans01@yahoo.com), August 17, 2001.

"Runway Incursions" can be really scary, and their frequency has increased along with the increased volume of air traffic in the past decade. For example, see the numbers given in this press release from a year and a half ago:


FAA unveils initiative to reduce runway incursion accidents.

Associated Press, 15 March 2000


The Federal Aviation Administration unveiled a new initiative Tuesday aimed at reducing the number of airplane accidents on the ground. The move came just over a month after a powerful member of Congress told the FAA to "deal with the problem."

Called runway incursions, such events happened almost 650 times during the past two years. The annual figure has nearly doubled in recent years, from 186 in 1993 to 327 in 1999.

While most runway incursions do not result in injury, there have been tragedies, including:

Four people died on March 9 in a collision between two small planes at the Sarasota/Bradenton airport in Florida when one aircraft taxied into the path of another;

An incident on November 22, 1999, at Los Angeles where a United Airlines jet overflew an AeriMexico jet on takeoff by only 100 feet;

In November 1996, 14 people died when a United Express commuter plane collided with a small twin engine plane at Quincy, Illinois. There was no control tower, and the smaller aircraft had taxied onto the runway in front of the commuter plane.

Subcommittee chairman demanded action With the initiative, the FAA says it is giving top priority to reducing or eliminating runway incursions. That is exactly what U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has been demanding.

On Feb. 1, Wolf, the chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee -- the panel that oversees funding for the FAA -- ordered agency officials to appear before his subcommittee later this month with detailed plans to lower the runway incursion problems.

"Over the past few years, FAA has produced a lot of plans, but they have not carried out those plans" for runway incursions, Wolf said during a Capitol Hill press conference in February. Wolf suggested that the FAA used "press releases to spin failure into success" by claiming that 327 incursions in 1999 was an improvement, since it was "only slightly" more than the previous year.

"What they didn't say is that their goal was to reduce runway incursions to a level of 270 for the year," Wolf said. "They missed their goal by 21 percent."

Under the FAA's new plan, it will continue developing surface radar, which it has installed at 34 airports, while testing computer enhancements.

It also will:

Hold seminars for both pilots and controllers to study ways to reduce or eliminate runway incursions.

Launch a program to encourage pilot reporting of dangerous runway incidents without penalty.

Hold a national summit in June to review the results of its efforts, and to see whether it has made progress in reducing the chances of runway incursion.

None of that appears to be too soon for Wolf. Though he could not be reached Tuesday night, his February statement explains his position: "When the FAA attaches urgency to an issue, they have shown they can respond quickly and effectively. I intend for them to see the urgency in the runway incursion issue before another disaster occurs."


Also see http://avstop.com/Stories/run.html or http://www.awp.faa.gov/fsdo/art_problem.htm for a little more general information.

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), August 17, 2001.

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