A very close call between a Southwest Boeing 737 and a FedEx Boeing 767 at Austin Airport, Texas

0
2013
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700

On 4 February 2023 at 06:40 local time (UTC-6), a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 registered N7827A was cleared to take off from Runway 18L at Austin International Airport, Texas, with destination Cancun, Mexico, as flight WN708. At the very same time, a FedEx Express Boeing 767-300F registered N297FE arriving from Memphis, Tennessee, as flight FX1432 was on short final and cleared to land on the same runway.

The FedEx plane descended as low as 150ft before breaking off its approach and initiating a go-around to the left due to traffic on the runway. The Southwest jet was instructed to abort take-off and turn right as soon as possible, but meanwhile, it had continued take-off and it turned right immediately after lifting off.

If the Flightradar24 data is correct (see video hereunder), at a given moment the planes were at the same vertical with little separation.

At the time, local weather at Austin Airport consisted of reduced visibility and freezing fog. The planes could not see each other and the tower could not see either one.

The FAA acknowledged the serious incident: “A Boeing 767 cargo airplane operated by FedEx discontinued its landing Saturday at Austin-Bergstrom International airport after an air traffic controller cleared a Boeing 737 operated by Southwest Airlines to depart ahead of the FedEx airplane.

The NTSB said it “is investigating a surface event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday, a possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx.

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