U.S. officials investigate near-collision at BWI

December 08, 2007|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,Sun reporter

Two planes nearly collided at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport this week as one aircraft took off just above another that had landed, federal officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the near-collision, which occurred at the intersection of two runways at 7:20 p.m. Sunday.

The investigation of the "runway incursion" is focusing on possible mistakes by air traffic controllers in the tower, not pilot error, said a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The spokesman, Jim Peters, said the near-collision involved ComAir Flight 5412, with 46 aboard, and U.S. Airways/America West Flight 83 with 155 aboard

Peters said the ComAir flight was racing along Runway 15-right for takeoff while America West aircraft was cruising along Runway 10 just after landing.

The ComAir plane became airborne and flew 300 feet above the America West plane where the runways intersect, he said.

The incident is being investigated as "an action by an air traffic controller that results in less than the required minimum separation between two aircraft," documents show.

There were six air traffic controllers on duty, two of them on routine break, an official said. An NTSB spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The near-collision came the same week that congressional investigators released a report saying that serious runway incursions continue to pose a "high risk of a catastrophic runway collision."

doug.donovan@baltsun.com

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