Two planes nearly collided at Boston’s Logan Airport on Monday night after one flight took off without permission, air safety officials say.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said a JetBlue flight from Nashville took evasive action, narrowly avoiding a departing Learjet plane.
The agency said it will investigate the “close call” to determine the proximity that the two planes came to each other.
It comes amid an alarming rise in safety incidents involving US planes.
“According to a preliminary review, the pilot of a Learjet 60 took off without clearance while JetBlue Flight 206 was preparing to land on an intersecting runway,” the FAA said in a statement provided to BBC News on Tuesday.
The near miss occurred around 19:00 local time (00:00GMT).
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An air traffic controller instructed the pilot of the Learjet “to line up and wait” on a runway that intersects another runway that the JetBlue flight was approaching for landing, the FAA says.
“The Learjet pilot read back the instructions clearly but began a take-off roll instead,” said the FAA statement. “The pilot of the JetBlue aircraft took evasive action and initiated a climb-out as the Learjet crossed the intersection.”
“The FAA will determine the closest proximity between the two aircraft as part of the investigation.”
The Learjear plane was being operated by private charter company Hop-a-Jet.
A JetBlue spokesperson told US media the pilot performed a “go-around”, a common manoeuvre triggered when a normal landing cannot proceed.
“Safety is JetBlue’s first priority and our crews are trained to react to situations like this. We will assist authorities as they investigate this incident.”
The JetBlue flight landed 14 minutes late, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
Several startling incidents led US senators on 15 February to hold a hearing to call on the FAA to review safety measures, and examine the glitch in their computer system that delayed thousands of flights across the country last month.
One day before the Senate hearing, the FAA said it would conduct a “safety call to action” and compile a team to investigate the recent incidents.
“We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted,” said acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen.
“Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent.”
Aviation industry have told BBC News that a wave of recent retirements, that sped-up during the Covid pandemic shutdown, have created staffing shortages across the industry.
Those shortages are felt from airport baggage departments to pilots, all the way to the FAA, the federal agency in charge of air traffic control and air safety.
The FAA, which is led by an administrator appointed by the president, has had three administrators over the span of just five years, and has been without a permanent administrator since last April.
With additional reporting by Robin Levinson-King