National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Today the NTSB cited an operational error by a tower air traffic controller as the probable cause of a near mid-air collision involving a commercial jetliner and a small private plane over the Gulfport-Biloxi airport.
On Sunday, June 19, 2011, at 12:35 p.m. CDT at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, a Cessna 172 was cleared for takeoff on runway 18 by the tower air traffic controller. Sixteen seconds later, the same air traffic controller cleared an Embraer 145, a commercial passenger flight, for takeoff on runway 14, the flight path of which intersects the flight path of runway 18.
While both airplanes were about 300 feet above the airfield, the Embraer passed in front of the Cessna. The closest proximity between the two planes was estimated to be 0 feet vertically and 300 feet laterally.
The Embraer 145, operated as ExpressJet flight 2555 (dba Continental/United Express) was carrying 50 passengers and 3 crewmembers, and was bound for Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) where it landed uneventfully.
No one in either airplane was injured in the incident.
In May 2010, the NTSB held a forum to highlight the importance of developing and reinforcing the highest standards of professionalism in aviation (http://go.usa.gov/RmM)
The issue area of pilot and air traffic controller professionalism was added to the NTSB's Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements in May 2011: http://go.usa.gov/Rmn
The complete incident report is available at http://go.usa.gov/REE
The accident docket, which contains statements from the pilots, the airport diagram, and other investigation related documents, is available at http://go.usa.gov/RHv
Contact: NTSB Public Affairs
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.