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2 planes avoid crash after possible air traffic control mishap at Austin airport, FAA says

FAA investigating near collision on Austin runway
FAA investigating near collision on Austin runway 01:47

A FedEx cargo airplane attempting to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Saturday morning had to reverse course after a second plane was cleared to depart from the same runway, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Boeing 767 cargo airplane was several miles from the airport when it was cleared to land at about 6:40 a.m. local time, according to the FAA. But just before it was expected to land, an air traffic controller gave the go-ahead for an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines to take off.

"The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out," the FAA said in a statement.

According to the flight tracking website FlightAware, the FedEx plane had descended to an altitude of about 150 feet at 6:40 a.m. before it was forced to ascend again. The plane landed at the airport about 11 minutes later, at 6:51 a.m., per FlightAware. 

In a tweet Saturday, the National Transportation Safety Board described it as a "possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx."

The Southwest flight was able to depart safely, according to the FAA.

The FAA and NTSB said they are investigating the incident.

Shannon Davis, a spokesperson for FedEx, said in an emailed statement, "FedEx Express Flight 1432 from Memphis, Tenn. to Austin, Texas safely landed after encountering an event just before landing at Austin Bergstrom International Airport this morning."

Both Davis and Southwest Airlines referred further questions to the FAA and NTSB.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the Austin-Bergstrom International said it was "aware of the Federal Aviation Administration's investigation into the discontinued landing of a flight. We will assist our FAA partners and their investigation as necessary."

A similar close call was averted at John F. Kennedy International Airport last month after an American Airlines plane crossed a runway while a Delta Airlines' Boeing 737 plane was preparing for takeoff. The Delta plane stopped about 1,000 feet from where the American Airlines plane had crossed from an adjacent taxiway, according to the FAA statement.

Austin-Bergstrom is 5 miles southeast of Austin.

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