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article imagePassenger planes nearly collide, fly a football field apart

By Marcus Hondro     May 23, 2014 in Travel
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into an incident on May 9 that could have been a tragedy. Two United Airline planes flying over the Houston airport came within seconds of a mid-air collision.
KHOU News out of Houston reported that the planes had each just taken off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport and they were only about 4,200 feet up when the incident occurred. They passed over one another, no more than 400 feet apart, about the length of an American football field.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said United Flight 601, an Airbus A-320 was heading for Vancouver, Canada, while United Flight 437, also an Airbus A-320, was on its way to Mexico City. The airbus A-320 can accommodate over 200 passengers.
Transcripts reveal that air traffic control told Flight 601 to “...turn right parallel traffic." The order should have said to turn left, however. The mistake lead them to fly right toward one another, but though they came oh so close to colliding Flight 601 was 400 feet below the other plane. The near missed was viewed by the pilot of another plane nearby.
"You all basically crossed directly over the top of each other." that pilot said. “That’s what it looked like from my perspective. I have no idea what was going on over there in the tower. But, you know, it was pretty gnarly looking."
The pilot of Flight 601 then said "I'm guessing he was supposed to give us a left turn." There's no indication that the passengers even knew how close they sat to disaster.
There are reports that the controller who issued the incorrect turn direction was a trainee-controller. The near-miss is being investigated by the FAA.
More about FAA, planes in nearmiss over Houston, planes fly over one another, United airlines
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