Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a close call while flying? A recent incident at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas has us all thinking about the importance of safety in the skies. On Saturday morning, a FedEx cargo airplane was forced to reverse course after a second plane was cleared to depart from the same runway.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Boeing 767 cargo airplane was several miles from the airport when it was cleared to land at about 6:40 a.m. local time. But just before it was expected to land, an air traffic controller gave the go-ahead for an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines to take off. The pilot of the FedEx airplane then discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out.
Flight tracking website FlightAware reported that the FedEx plane had descended to an altitude of about 150 feet at 6:40 a.m. before it was forced to ascend again. The plane landed at the airport about 11 minutes later, at 6:51 a.m. The Southwest flight was able to depart safely, according to the FAA.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have both said they are investigating the incident. Shannon Davis, a spokesperson for FedEx, said in an emailed statement, “FedEx Express Flight 1432 from Memphis, Tenn. to Austin, Texas safely landed after encountering an event just before landing at Austin Bergstrom International Airport this morning.”
The incident is eerily similar to one that occurred at John F. Kennedy International Airport last month. An American Airlines plane crossed a runway while a Delta Airlines’ Boeing 737 plane was preparing for takeoff. The Delta plane stopped about 1,000 feet from where the American Airlines plane had crossed from an adjacent taxiway, according to the FAA statement.
We can all be thankful that the incident at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport ended without incident and that the FAA and NTSB are taking the necessary steps to investigate the close call. Safety in the skies is of utmost importance, and we can all learn from this experience.