NTSB: Air traffic control caused near-collision at MSPby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Air traffic control error caused a near collision in midair over the Twin Cities airport last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said in preliminary findings released Wednesday.
The NTSB investigated after an Airbus 320 operated by US Airways nearly collided with a Bemidji Aviation Services Beech 99 cargo plane on Sept. 16.
According to preliminary findings, an air traffic controller told the US Airways flight carrying five crew members and 90 passengers to turn left. The instruction caused the commercial jetliner to cross paths with the Bemidji Aviation Services aircraft, which was carrying only a pilot.
But the NTSB report is silent on the smaller plane's failure to comply with an instruction to turn left after departure. The plane continued northwest instead of turning more than 90 degrees to the left.
The two came within an estimated 50 to 100 feet of each other, but the NTSB said neither pilot saw the other aircraft. The captain of the US Airways flight reported hearing the other aircraft.
The NTSB said the Airbus had a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, which told the crew to climb to avert collision.
NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said the final report will not be out "for some months" and declined an interview request. The NTSB will wait until the final report to include any analysis, she said.
(MPR editor Bill Catlin contributed to this report.)