FedEx freighter flight 1432 was cleared to land in Austin, while a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737, flight 708 to Cancun, was cleared to take off, using the same runway. The incident occurred around 6:40 a.m. on Saturday morning. Thankfully the FedEx plane pulled up and away, mere feet from landing on top of the passenger flight.
The NTSB is investigating a surface event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday, a possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx.
— NTSB Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) February 4, 2023
The FedEx Boeing 767 descended to within about 100 feet of runway 18-Left. The planes were vertically separated by only about 500 feet. As the Southwest flight took off, it banked right while the Fedex plane turned left. They were about 670 feet apart as they turned. Visibility at the airport was just one-eighth of a mile.
🚨#BREAKING: Two jets avoid crash after possible air traffic control mishap at Austin airport
A Disaster was averted at Austin international airport after FedEx cargo plane aborts landing, narrowly missing a Southwest Airlines plane no injuries were reported pic.twitter.com/RLbIkVAtNY
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) February 5, 2023
ATC recording of Austin incident
09:00: Tower clears Southwest to take off, advises FedEx is 3 miles behind them
09:20 FedEx asks to reconfirm landing
09:25 Tower: “That is affirm…you are cleared to land”
10:23 Tower: “Southwest abort. —FedEx is on the go.” pic.twitter.com/jnKKbvOBb0
— Will Horton (@winglets747) February 5, 2023
This incident comes less than a month after NOTAM system failure at the FAA shut down the entire country’s air travel system, and three weeks after an air traffic near-disaster at New York JFK between an America and Delta jet where the American pilots appear to have been at fault but where the air traffic system didn’t prevent the close call from occurring.
It’s time to begin a real conversation around modernizing air traffic control in this country. That includes the structure and culture, funding, and technology of the FAA’s Air Transport Organization. It won’t be solved by throwing more taxpayer money at the problem, the way U.S. airline CEOs advocate.
We need to look at a better organizational and funding model, like in Canada – fundamentally you want separation between the regulator and the service provider, rather than the FAA performing the air traffic control function and overseeing its own performance.