Federal agencies investigating near miss between Southwest jet and private plane

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Saturday they were investigating a near miss between a Southwest Airlines flight and a private plane, the latest in a string of narrowly avoided accidents in the skies. 

The incident occurred Friday at San Diego International Airport. According to both agencies, a Cessna 560X corporate jet was cleared to land on the same runway on which Southwest Airlines Flight 2493, a Boeing 747, was lined up and waiting for permission to take off. The airport’s surface surveillance system alerted air traffic controllers to the problem, and they instructed the Cessna to abort its landing. 

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The Cessna was narrowly able to avoid a collision, with FAA sources telling Reuters it passed over the top of the Southwest plane by just 100 feet. No injuries or damage was reported from the incident, the NTSB tweeted. Southwest later told Reuters that it was cooperating with federal investigators, adding that Flight 2493 “departed without event and the flight operated normally, with a safe landing in San Jose as scheduled.”

The American aviation industry has seen a spike in the number of near-miss incidents between aircraft. In the first two months of 2023 alone, there were eight close calls that prompted investigations from the NTSB. That figure is nearly double the annual average over the last five years, Bloomberg reported. The agency is investigating a total of seven incidents that occurred this year.

This past June, the FAA announced it would begin mandatory training sessions for air traffic controllers as a result of these incidents. Some experts have attributed this uptick in near misses to the sudden increase in travel following the Covid-19 pandemic, though no definitive explanation has been found.

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