NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


LAGUARDIA AIRPORT NEAR MID-AIR COLLISION
April 3, 1998

June 5, 1998

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a near mid-air collision that occurred at New York's LaGuardia Airport on April 3, 1998. Information gathered by Safety Board investigators follows:

At approximately 8:21 a.m., April 3, 1998, US Airways flight 920, a DC-9, arriving from Columbus, Ohio, experienced what the pilot described as a near mid-air collision with Air Canada flight 703, an Airbus A-320, which was taking off for Toronto. When the event occurred, the Air Canada plane had just lifted off runway 31, and the US Airways aircraft had just been ordered to break off its landing on runway 22. The runways intersect, and both aircraft were under the control of the same local air traffic controller.

The local controller told Safety Board investigators that he felt the aircraft came within 20 feet of each other. The captain of the US Airways plane, who filed a Near Mid-Air Collision report upon his return to Pittsburgh, estimated the aircraft missed by 85 feet vertical and 75 feet horizontal. In a statement to the Board, the first officer of the US Airways plane, said he performed an evasive maneuver and his aircraft passed under the Air Canada aircraft's tail. The Air Canada crew statement indicates that they heard the controller give the US Airways aircraft the go-around instruction and saw the plane after passing over it. They did not estimate the distance that separated the two aircraft.

Weather at the time of the incident was clear with 10 mile visibility.

The Board continues reviewing and analyzing radar data and air traffic control communications, and is collecting further witness statements during this on-going investigation. Issues identified by the Board for investigation so far are:

• The performance of the local air traffic controller handling the two aircraft, and the actions of the tower supervisor during and after the event.

• Air traffic control procedures and training for handling aircraft under visual separation.

• The circumstances that resulted in the FAA's failure to notify the Safety Board about this incident. The Board learned about the incident several days after the fact from an air carrier, and initiated its investigation at that time.

• The FAA's method of classifying air traffic control events. This incident has not been classified by the FAA as an operational error.

As with all NTSB investigations, safety recommendations can be issued at any time.

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.