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Federal officials investigate close call between two planes near Fort Lauderdale

An airliner lands at Tampa International Airport Friday, March 19, 2021. Flying to Florida has turned into a nightmare at times in recent months, and now federal officials say they are going to do something to fix things. The Federal Aviation Administration said it will increase the number of air traffic controllers in Florida and take other steps to improve the flow of planes over the state.
Gene J. Puska
/
AP
FILE: An airliner lands at Tampa International Airport Friday, March 19, 2021.

WASHINGTON — Federal officials said Monday they are investigating a recent close call between an Allegiant Air plane and a private jet in which pilots of both aircraft received collision-threat warnings and took evasive action.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the incident happened July 23 near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. It’s the latest in a series of close calls that led the FAA to convene a special safety summit earlier this year.

The FAA said an air traffic controller in Miami told the crew of Allegiant flight 485 that had taken off from Fort Lauderdale to turn east at 23,000 feet, and it crossed in front of a Gulfstream business jet that was heading north.

Pilots of the Allegiant Airbus A320 took evasive action after getting an automated alert about another aircraft at the same altitude. The pilot of the Gulfstream jet got a similar warning and also took evasive action.

The Allegiant plane returned to the Fort Lauderdale airport, and a flight attendant was treated for injuries, the FAA said.

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The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that it was gathering information about the incident before deciding whether to open an investigation.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating about a half-dozen incidents this year in which planes came closer together than they should. In many cases, one or both planes were still on the ground.

The closest occurred in February, when a FedEx cargo plane coming in to land passed over the top of a Southwest Airlines that had been cleared to take off from the same runway. The head of the NTSB said the planes came within about 100 feet of each other.

The number of close calls in rapid succession led the then-acting administrator of the FAA to convene a “safety summit” in March. The official, who has since left the FAA, defended the nation’s safety record, but he called for more data about the incidents and cautioned everyone in aviation to pay more attention to safety procedures.

The last fatal crash involving a U.S. airline was in 2009.

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