Austin Airport Southwest
Austin Airport Southwest

Close Call: Fedex 767 Almost Lands on a Departing Southwest 737

On the 4th of February, a FedEx Boeing 767-300 and a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 had a close call in Austin-Bergstrom International airport, Texas, USA that almost ended in disaster. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are currently investigating.

The close call involved two aircraft; a FedEx 10 year-old Boeing 767-300F, with registration N297FE performing flight FX1432 from Memphis to Austin and a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 registration N7827A performing flight WN708 from Austin to Cancun, Mexico.

According to Reuters, at 06:40LT, the FedEx B767 was on final (seven miles away) for a CAT III ILS approach when the control tower cleared the aircraft to land on runway 18 Left but at the same time cleared the Southwest B737 for take off that was holding short of runway 18L.

“Shortly before the FedEx aircraft was due to land, the controller cleared Southwest Flight 708 to depart from the same runway. The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out,”

The FAA said

About 30 seconds later, the tower questioned Southwest if there were on the roll, the flight crew confirmed and 25 seconds later the tower advised “Southwest abort, the Fedex was on the go (around)”, however, the B737 continued the take-off and turned left.

As it is possible to listen on the ATC communications the FedEx pilots reconfirmed the landing clearance and requested Southwest to abort the take-off but the aircraft was beyond V1, once this didn’t happen FedEx pilots decided to go around and landed safely 11 minutes later.

According to radar data the two aircraft came within 100 ft of colliding and the visibility by the time of the incident was 1200ft (around 365 meters).

ATC Communications can listen below: