Disaster almost struck at the Austin airport. Air traffic control directed a landing Fedex Boeing 767F onto the runway where a Southwest Boeing 737 was just taking off. A collision was just averted.

Fedex Express flight FX1432 connects Memphis with Austin daily. On Saturday (February 4), the Boeing 767 F with the license plate was on the 900-kilometer route from Tennessee to Texas. After a flight of a little over an hour, the freighter’s cockpit crew reported to the controllers at 6.40 a.m. local time as they were approaching.

It was cleared to land on runway 18L at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and was advised that a Boeing 737 would be taking off ahead of them. Because Southwest’s jet was ready for takeoff at that point in time. As flight WN708, its destination was the Mexican holiday resort of Cancun.

A few minutes after the Boeing 767F was given permission to land on runway 18L, Southwest’s Boeing 737-700, registration number N7827A, was also given permission to take off on runway 18L. The cockpit crew was also informed that another aircraft was preparing to land behind them. A little later, to be on the safe side, a Fedex pilot asked again whether one should really land on 18L. The pilot replied: “Positive”.

At that time, a dense fog lay over Austin. As the Boeing 767 pierced the blanket of fog, it finally realized the danger. And the controller now also became aware that there was a risk of a collision and asked the Southwest crew if they were already taxiing with their Boeing 737. The confirmed this. The pilot had previously asked her to turn right, as the “Aviation Herald” portal, which specializes in incidents, writes.

At about the same time, a person radioed the Southwest cockpit crew to abort the launch. It’s unclear if that was a controller or one of the Fedex pilots. However, the Boeing 737-700 was no longer able to abort the take-off.

Fortunately, in the cockpit of the Boeing 767 F, the decision to go-around had already been made. The aircraft had already descended to 150 meters above the ground when it began to climb again about 1500 meters before the start of the runway. Nevertheless, it then flew over the runway and thus also over the taking off Boeing 737 before it turned left. Southwest’s jet immediately turned right after takeoff.

“The pilot of the Fedex plane aborted the landing and initiated a climb,” the FAA said in a statement. You and the NTSB are investigating the incident. According to flight tracking service Flightradar 24, the minimum vertical separation between the two aircraft was less than 1,000 feet or 300 meters.

This article was written by Stefan Eiselin

Air Traffic Controller Error Leads to Austin Airport Near Disaster