Just another near miss

Here’s an airliner’s track on approach to an airport you don’t see everyday…


It’s believed to be the ground track for one of the three planes involved in a near miss at Washington’s Reagan airport this week (courtesy Flightaware.com)

On Tuesday afternoon, an incoming flight cleared to land was flying head-on at two planes that had just taken off. It appears it was the fault of an air traffic controller or two, according to the Washington Post.

“Are you with me?” the tower controller asked the inbound pilot, checking to see whether he was tuned to her radio frequency. When the pilot acknowledged her, she ordered him to make an abrupt turn to the south to avoid the other two planes.

“We were cleared [for landing] at the river there,” the pilot said after breaking off the approach northwest of the airport. “What happened?”

  • Sam

    Bob, would this kind of mistake automatically cost an air traffic controller his/her job? Or is there some room for case-by-case consideration of the circumstances that led to the near miss? I know there are certain zero-tolerance offenses for pilots regardless of intent or circumstance, but is it the same for controllers?

  • Bob Collins

    It’s hard to say because we rarely get the results of these “investigations.” On the surface and looking at the feds’ explanation, I don’t see this as a career-ender, given some addition circumstances such as changing weather etc.

    It might get some remedial training, though.