NTSB investigates near midair collision involving B777 and USAF C-17s

February 5, 2011

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating an operational error that occurred near New York City on January 20, 2011.

The Safety Board was notified of a Traffic Collision and Alerting System (TCAS) resolution advisory that occurred due to a near midair collision involving American Airlines flight 951 on January 20, 2011, at about 22:30  The American Airlines aircraft, a Boeing 777-200 (N766AN), had taken off from John F. Kennedy International Airport en route to Sao Paulo, Brazil and was flying southeast.

A flight of two U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas C-17 transport planes was heading northwest toward McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. There were no injuries in the incident.

The NTSB has interviewed air traffic controllers on duty at the time of the incident, and is gathering information from American Airlines and the Air Force.

The air traffic controllers talking to each of the aircraft received conflict alerts, and immediately provided traffic advisories and turned their aircraft to resolve the conflict. In addition, the American Airlines crew responded to directions provided by TCAS. Radar data indicate that the aircraft came within a mile of each other at their closest point. The incident occurred about 80 miles southeast of New York City.


NTSB investigating near mid-air collision over San Francisco involving Boeing 777 and Aeronca

March 31, 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 March 27, 2010.

At about 11:15 a.m. PDT the crew of United Airlines Flight UA889, a Boeing 777-222 registered N216UA destined for Beijing-Capital Airport (PEK/ZBAA), 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 The first officer, who was flying the aircraft, reported that after the landing gear was retracted and the jet was at an altitude of about 1,100 feet, the tower controller reported traffic at his 1 o’clock position.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, an Aeronca 11AC (N9270E), 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.

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