NTSB: The FedEx plane was only 50 feet above the ground when doom was averted

New York (CNN) A FedEx plane was only about 50 feet above the ground when the pilots realized a Southwest jet was taking off from the same runway and aborted landing last month to avoid a potentially catastrophic fatal accident, federal safety investigators reported. Thursday.

The report comes from the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates accidents and near misses in the transportation industry. As is typical for a preliminary report like this, the report did not make any assessments of error for the near miss.

The incident occurred early on Feb. 4 at Austin, Texas International Airport. CNN previously reported that the two planes came within 100 feet of each other, based on data from FlightRadar24. The NTSB’s initial findings confirmed previous reports that it was the FedEx pilot, not air traffic controllers, who discovered the problem and told the Southwest plane to abort takeoff.

NTSB chairwoman Jennifer Homendy previously told CNN she believes the two planes came within 100 feet or less. Thursday’s report said the NTSB is still analyzing data from the cockpit recorders and other information and has not determined where they are closest.

“That’s very close, way too close,” Homendy told CNN’s Pete Muntean in an interview ahead of Thursday’s report. “It’s a big concern for us.”

The report said the Southwest plane was speeding down the runway and picking up speed for takeoff when the FedEx pilot warning came. The Southwest aircraft lifted off and banked sharply to the right as it became airborne. The FedEx plane veered left as it aborted landing to avoid a possible collision.

The NTSB said it is still analyzing flight data and other information and has not determined the closest proximity between the planes.

There were 128 passengers and crew on the Southwest flight and three crew members on the FedEx flight.

This is one of five near misses involving US commercial airliners in recent months. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.






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