Planes in close call in Sarasota were cleared to use same runway
Federal investigators say an air traffic controller cleared a plane to take off from Sarasota while an American Airlines jet was making its final approach to the same runway last month, leading the American pilots to abandon their landing.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that the American and Air Canada
Rouge planes were separated by six-tenths of a mile — about 3,000 feet — at their closest point. That is much farther apart than planes in several recent close calls.
In its preliminary report, the safety board did not state a cause for the Feb. 16 incident, but it said it formed a group to investigate air traffic controller actions. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Federal Aviation Administration, which hires and trains controllers, are taking part in the investigation, the NTSB said.
The early findings came a day after officials from the NTSB, the FAA, airlines and airline unions met for a “safety summit.”
According to an FAA readout of summit sessions that were closed to the public and press, a group that discussed air traffic recommended closer examination of data to find the causes and solutions for planes being on or near the same runway at the same time. The FAA said it asked the industry to find technology to help air traffic controllers track equipment on the ground.
The NTSB is investigating six recent events of conflicting runway use.
The board did not start any similar investigations in 2022, a spokesman said.