NTSB continues investigation of near-collision in Pennsylvania, United States

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued an update in its investigation of a serious runway incursion in Pennsylvania in September. A regional jet with sixty people on board aborted takeoff and swerved to avoid a light plane, missing it by an estimated ten feet.

The swerve marks on the left were made by the CRJ-700 as it moved to avoid the Cessna

The event occurred at Allentown's Lehigh Valley International Airport. A Canadair CRJ-700, operated by Mesa Airlines as Flight 7138, received clearance for takeoff but aborted the maneuver at 120 knots (138 mph), skidding around a Cessna 172R that had just landed and was still taxiing on the runway. The crew of the Mesa Air regional jet estimated the distance between the two aircraft as 10 feet when they passed.

The Mesa Air crew decided to abandon the flight. They returned the aircraft for inspection, but no damage was found. The incident occurred at night.

The NTSB also released a photo of the tire marks left by the jet after the incident, showing that a violent swerve occurred. A detailed timeline has been released, as shown below:

  • 7:29:28 - Cessna contacts Allentown tower while about 8 miles east of the airport.
  • 7:33:30 - Cessna, in landing pattern for runway, is cleared to land on runway 6.
  • 7:34:50 - Mesa Air regional jet contacts tower and reports ready for takeoff and holding short of runway 6. Controller

instructs pilot to hold short of runway 6 for landing traffic.

  • 7:36:15 - Cessna crosses threshold of runway 6 and lands.
  • 7:36:27 - Mesa Air instructed by tower controller to taxi into position on runway 6 and hold.
  • 7:36:36 - Tower controller asks pilot of Cessna where he intends to park. Following pilot response, controller provides taxi directions, instructing pilot to exit runway at taxiway A4.
  • 7:37:11 - Mesa Air cleared for takeoff. 7:37:18 to 7:37:32 - Controller turns attention to an inbound aircraft and issues landing instructions.
  • 7:37:34 - Cessna pilot informs tower controller that he had missed the A4 taxiway and asks for permission to exit at taxiway B.
  • 7:37:42 - Controller replies, "...no delay, turn immediately," which Cessna pilot acknowledges.
  • 7:38:16 - Mesa Air radios tower controller: "We got it, tower - we're going to need to go back to the gate." Following the incident, both aircraft taxied to parking.

The NTSB has interviewed both pilots from the jet's four-person crew, the Cessna's pilot, the air traffic controllers on duty and the Federal Aviation Administration control tower managers. The investigation continues.