Newark, NJ, United States (4E) – Two passenger jets nearly collided in mid-air over Newark Liberty International Airport last month, according to a preliminary report of the incident made public by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Monday.
A United Airlines flight with 155 passengers and six crew members aboard and an ExpressJet plane carrying 47 passengers and three crew members were involved in the April 24 incident, the report said.
The bigger plane, a Boeing 737 coming from San Francisco, was landing and the smaller Embraer jet was taking off causing the two to cross path at 3 p.m. but missed hitting one another. The incident occurred at the intersection of the airport’s two north-south runways and the east-west Runway 29.
The report said the two planes missed each other by a mere 200 feet laterally and 400 feet vertically. Under flight rules, the minimum distance between jets landing and taking off on intersecting runways is two miles.
The report suggests that the Memphis-bound ExpressJet did not immediately take off after an air traffic controller gave its pilot the go to fly when the UA plane was still three miles away from the runway. Instead, the smaller plane took off when the Boeing 737 was already a mile away.
No one was injured and the planes were not damaged during the near-collision. The Boeing 737 landed safely after making a turnaround as instructed earlier by air traffic controllers.
Recorded conversations between the air traffic controllers and the pilots of the two planes were part of the report. A UA passenger also told the Star Ledger that he saw a plane headed right at their plane and flew underneath.