July 2, 2013
By Jim Moore
The closest of the close calls happened at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport on July 30, 2012: A Spirit Airlines A-319 executing a go-around came within 1,300 feet laterally and 100 feet vertically of a Cessna Citation 510 on short final. After investigating five such incidents in which an aircraft executing a go-around at a major airport came too close to other traffic, the NTSB on July 1 issued a recommendation to the FAA to change procedures and requested a response within 90 days.
Current ATC rules ensure safe separation during arrivals and departures, but do not, the NTSB said, adequately account for aborted landings. “In such situations, a flight crew performing a go-around may be put into the position of having to execute evasive maneuvers at low altitude and high closing speeds with little time to avoid a mid-air collision,” the NTSB said in a press release.
The NTSB cited four other incidents similar to the near miss in Las Vegas, three of which took place in 2012, with another dating to 2006. In each case, an aircraft aborted a landing while another aircraft was arriving or departing a different runway, with vertical separation between 100 feet and 400 feet, and lateral separation ranging from 1,000 feet to 1,800 feet. Pilots told NTSB investigators that tower controllers did not appear to have clear procedures in place to account for (and respond to) aborted landings.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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