Two jets collided at a Houston airport Tuesday when one took off without permission and the other was landing, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
The collision occurred as aviation officials became concerned about the regularity of accidents caused by the lack of air traffic control facilities across the country and the failure to install warning systems. There is no information about anyone being injured.
The safety board said in a statement Wednesday that a twin-engine Hawker 850XP was taking off from William P. Hobby Airport, about 10 miles southeast of downtown Houston, when a twin-engine Cessna C510 landed there. Had been.
An air traffic controller asked the hawker to line up and wait on the airport’s Runway 22 at about 3:20 p.m., the safety board said in a statement on Wednesday. The agency said the Hawker took off from Runway 22 and its wing hit the rear of the Cessna as the jet was landing on a nearby runway. The Hawker pilot continued takeoff from Runway 22 before returning to the airport after the collision.
There were five people on board the Cessna and three people on the Hawker, the agency said. No one was injured and the extent of the damage was unclear, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
“We were just in the air,” the Hawker pilot is heard saying in an audio recording posted on LiveATC.net, which shares live and archived recordings of air traffic control radio transmissions.
Someone in the control tower responds by saying, “Say what?”
The Hawker pilot says, “You guys cleared someone for takeoff or landing, and we hit them on departure.”
“You have to come back to the airport, you said, right?” says an air traffic controller.
“Yes, immediately,” the Hawker pilot replied.
The collision caused the FAA to issue a ground stop to Hobby Airport, halting takeoffs and landings for several hours, and closing the airfield while debris from the planes was removed. Some flights were diverted to George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a large facility north of downtown Houston.
According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, the Cessna took off from Atlanta’s Fulton County Airport. It was not clear where the hawker was going.
The owners of the plane could not be immediately contacted on Wednesday. The FAA and NTSB did not identify the people who were aboard the jet or the air traffic controllers who were on duty at the time.
The NTSB said it sent a team to Houston on Wednesday that will investigate the collision for several days. As part of the investigation, the team planned to interview the pilots of both aircraft as well as air traffic control personnel.
Hours after the confrontation, the Senate confirmed Michael G. Whitaker to lead the FAA, a position that had not been filled by a permanent official for more than 18 months.
Mr. Whitaker, who served as deputy administrator of the FAA during the Obama administration, said at a confirmation hearing One of his goals this month will be to continue the agency’s mission to eliminate “close calls.”
“It is vital that we achieve this,” he said. “This will not be accomplished overnight, but it is essential work that must continue.”