The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced this afternoon that it has opened an investigation into the near collision of a Southwest Airlines 737-300 and a small plane at Burbank, California’s Bob Hope Airport.
The “runway incursion” occurred on the morning of Monday April 19, when Southwest flight 649 (inbound from Oakland, carrying 119 passengers and a crew of five) was landing while a Cessna 172 (in the departure phase of a “touch and go”) passed over the 737. (A “touch and go” is a practice maneuver in which an aircraft briefly lands on the runway before accelerating and becoming airborne again.)
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the planes came within 200 feet vertically and 10 feet laterally of each other at the intersection of two runways. At the time of the incident, skies were clear and visibility was ten miles.
Improving runway safety has been a priority for the NTSB since 1990.
The world’s deadliest aviation accident occurred on March 27, 1977, when two 747’s heading in opposite directions collided on a runway at Tenerife, Canary Islands, killing 583 passengers and crew.