Two Planes Almost Collided at FYI

August 29, 2008 8:40:47 PM PDT
Fresno Yosemite International Airport saw two planes come just a few yards from colliding Thursday night on the same runway.The planes came just 15 feet apart from each other. That's roughly from here to here. The national transportation safety board is now coming out to investigate the near collision.

Inside the Fresno Airport Tower Thursday night ... Federal aviation administrators believe air traffic controllers mistakenly gave the green light for a commercial jet with 51 people on board to land on a strip already occupied by a private piper plane similar to this one.

"It appeared as though the piper was starting to turn onto a taxiway I believe the controller assumed that the piper was making that turn and cleared the SkyWest to land however the piper didn't end up turning on the taxiway and remained on the runway."

National transportation safety board investigators say a single engine piper pa46 landed on runway 29r at just after nine p.m.

Before it moved off the runway the tower cleared a Delta SkyWest Commuter jet to land on the same runway. The SkyWest plane out of Salt Lake City was forced to veer to the right to avoid an accident.

"The SkyWest pilot told us the piper was well to the left side of the runway and that the SkyWest regional jet seemed to miss the piper by about 15 feet wingtip to wingtip."

Investigators say skies were clear at the time, visibility 10 miles when the planes touched down just after dark.

48 passengers were on board the SkyWest flight- plus two pilots and a flight attendant.

"We consider it to be a serious incident anytime a plane lands on a runway that's occupied that's simply not supposed to happen ... "

Airport administrators say all runway, taxiway, and runway guidance lights were on and functioning during the near mishap.

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