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Multiple Terrifying Near-Miss Collisions Have Happened on Airport Runways This Year

There have been 631 incursions so far this year.

Aviation safety has improved by leaps and bounds. In the last 50 years, fatal accidents have decreased dramatically with new technology, regulations, and surveillance. However, flight mishaps still happen. Earlier this month, a Lufthansa flight flying from Texas to Germany experienced severe turbulence and had a major drop. Several people were injured and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing. Later, news websites reported that the crew had asked passengers to delete all photos and videos after the plane stabilized.

So far this year, the Federal Aviation Administration has reported 631 runway incursions–a slight decline from a year ago, which reported 801 incidents over a similar period. There were 1,732 incursions in all of 2022. The FAA defines a runway incursion as, “Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.”

Close call incidents aren’t a common occurrence, so it’s become a matter of discussion in the Senate, along with the recent NOTAM outage. The following incidents are near-miss collisions between planes that have made news recently.

Related: 10 Worst Plane Crashes in the Last Decade

Delta-American at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York

On January 13, 2023, a major collision was averted at New York’s high-traffic JFK. A Delta Air Lines flight aborted take off when an American Airlines flight came into its path from an adjacent taxiway while taxiing. The air traffic controller saw the position of the AA flight and quickly asked Delta to stop—the two flights were 1,000 feet away and no one was injured. This incident is under investigation, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said in its preliminary report that the American Airlines crew has refused to be interviewed because their statements will be audio-recorded.

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Days later, a JetBlue plane bumped into an empty, parked JetBlue aircraft at JFK. It was bound for Puerto Rico when it clipped the tail of the stationary aircraft. No injuries were reported and the flight was returned to the gate.

United-Kamaka Air at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Honolulu

On January 23 at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, a United Airlines flight from Denver crossed the runway while a Kamaka Air cargo flight was also landing. The two aircraft were 1,173 feet apart and no injuries occurred. 

FedEx-Southwest at Austin Bergstrom International Airport

On February 5, 2023, a FedEx plane was cleared off to land at Austin Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. However, a Southwest flight to Cancun was given the clearance to take off from the same runway. The FedEx plane climbed out to avoid a collision with the other plane, and now this incident is under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Air Canada-American Airlines at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

At Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in Florida, an Air Canada flight was cleared for takeoff by the ATC while an American Airlines flight was also given the thumbs up to land on the same runway. The American Airlines flight performed a go-around when the air controller informed the crew about the Air Canada flight taking off. This February 16, 2023, incident is under investigation; however, preliminary data suggests that the planes were 3,100 feet apart when they almost crossed paths.

Mesa-Skywest at Bob Hope Burbank Airport, California

Another close-call incident under investigation happened at Bob Hope Burbank Airport in California on February 22, 2023. A Skywest flight was taking off from the same runway that a Mesa Airlines plane was planning to land. The Skywest plane took off, while the Mesa plane turned around.

JetBlue-Private Jet at Boston Logan International Airport

On February 27, 2023, a JetBlue flight was preparing to land at Boston Logan International Airport when a private Learjet 60 took off without clearance. The two planes came as close as 565 feet, but thankfully, the controller asked the JetBlue pilot to go around and swift action saved the two planes from colliding. 

United-United at Boston Logan International Airport

On March 6, 2023, two United Airlines planes made contact as they were both scheduled to take off from Boston Logan International Airport. Flight 515 was on its way to Newark when it hit the parked Flight 267, which was bound for Denver. No one got hurt and both planes were taken out of commission. Now the FAA is investigating this incident.

This isn’t a lone incident this year involving two United planes. In February, a similar collision happened when a parked United flight packed with passengers heading to Orlando was struck by another United plane being towed. No injuries were reported and passengers were booked on another flight.