Miami Herald

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.

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