Baltimore Sun

FAA: Plane nearly hit ambulance at BWI

- By Dan Belson

A plane nearly hit an ambulance on the runway at BWI Marshall Airport in January, according to a Federal Aviation Administra­tion report.

The encounter happened when a BWI Marshall Airport Fire and Rescue Department medic vehicle and firefighte­r crossed a runway Jan. 12 without air traffic control authorizat­ion, BWI spokespers­on Jonathan Dean said.

A Boeing 737 operated by Southwest Airlines came within 200 feet of the aircraft rescue ambulance, which the report says crossed a runway due to a miscommuni­cation with air traffic control.

The ambulance had been instructed to stop prior to reaching the runway, but the driver believed they were instructed to cross it and was moving close to the runway as the plane took off at about 168 miles per hour.

The close encounter was reported to the FAA, Dean said. The incident was first reported this month by the national news website Politico, which included the encounter among a string of six close encounters at airports this year.

“Based on a review of the incident, new procedures were immediatel­y implemente­d to help ensure safety and to prevent a similar incident in the future,” Dean said. “Safety and security remain the highest priorities for BWI Marshall Airport.”

The FAA issued a safety alert Wednesday and held a safety summit last week in light of the six close calls on runways since the beginning of the year.

“While the overall numbers do not reflect an increase in incidents and occurrence­s, the potential severity of these events is concerning,” the Wednesday safety alert says, urging airlines, pilots and others in the industry to take several safety actions.

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