Several near mid-air collisions happening with US airplanes

There have been several recent near misses between planes in the past few days. In fact, CNN is reporting these kinds of incidents happen a lot more often than you think. Earlier this month at JFK, a JetBlue airliner taking off while another JetBlue plane was about to touchdown. In a last minute move, the pilot approaching the runway aborts the landing, putting the two planes about one mile apart – closer than allowed.

“Anytime there is a loss of separation, we are concerned about it because it is not supposed to occur,” said Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board.

April 24th, a much more dangerous situation: a near mid-air collision over Newark. A United Airlines 737, landing with 160 passengers onboard, came within 150 yards of a United Express regional jet preparing to take off.

“Yeah we put the nose down he was really close,” stated a member of the WABC.

The next day, a United 757, cruising at 33,000 feet over the Pacific, gets too close to a US Airways 757. The collision alert system goes off; one passenger says the plane plunged without warning.

“Well, for the past 30 years, we’ve had an air traffic control system that has not been upgraded properly. Our controllers are basically, in many cases, overworked,” said aviation consultant Michael Boyd.

The latest FAA numbers show planes got too close 4,400 times within a year – 41 considered high risk.

“I think the FAA’s measure of safety is whether someone died or not. That’s not good enough.”

An example of when planes get too close, a US Airways 737 at LAX landed on top of a Skywest commuter plane preparing for takeoff in 1991, killing 34 people. Accidents like this are incredibly rare because of collision avoidance systems, now mandated in planes.

“I hate to judge safety by the lack of accidents, but I will say this, and that is: since TCAS has been installed and used, we have not had a mid-air collision in this country involving two TCAS equipped airplanes. I think that says a lot,” concluded Sumwalt.

Categories: KUSI