NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB INVESTIGATING NEAR MID-AIR COLLISION OVER SAN FRANCISCO INVOLVING COMMERCIAL JETLINER AND SMALL PLANE

March 30, 2010

The NTSB has launched an investigation to determine why a commercial jetliner and a small light airplane came within an estimated 300 feet of colliding over San Francisco on Saturday.

At about 11:15 a.m. PDT on March 27, the crew of United Airlines Flight 889, a B777-222 (N216UA) destined for Beijing, China, carrying 251 passengers and a crew of 17, was cleared to takeoff from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on runway 28L and climb to an initial altitude of 3,000 feet. The first officer, who was flying the aircraft, reported that after the landing gear was retracted and the jet was at an altitude of about 1,100 feet, the tower controller reported traffic at his 1 o'clock position. Immediately following the controller's advisory, the airplane's traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) issued an audible alert of "TRAFFIC TRAFFIC."

The pilots saw a light high wing airplane, a Cessna 182 (N9870E),, in a hard left turn traveling from their 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock position. The first officer pushed the control column forward to level the airplane. Both crew members reported seeing only the underside of the Aeronca as it passed to within an estimated 200-300 feet of the 777.

TCAS then issued an "ADJUST VERTICAL SPEED" alert, followed by a "DESCEND, DESCEND" alert. The first officer complied and the flight continued to Beijing without further incident.

NTSB investigator Scott Dunham is traveling to San Francisco to begin the investigation. 

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

Note: The original media advisory indicated that the light high wing airplane was an Aeronca 11AC with the registration number of N9270E. Subsequent information received by the NTSB clarified that the aircraft involved was a Cessna 182 with a registration number of N9870E.

 

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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.