...Amid Spike In Near-Collisions

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Pilots and passengers are often blissfully oblivious of a near-collision. But at LAX June 19 a United Express jet was forced to abort its takeoff because a Continental Express jet had, according to controllers, moved beyond the taxiway hold bars to within about 40 feet of the runway. Controllers ordered the abort and the United pilots slammed on the brakes, skidding past the Continental plane with about 100 feet to spare. It was one of three separation incidents in a week and the fourth in a month. Before that, there hadn't been an error reported since November. Meanwhile, the state of safety at the New York TRACON (where controllers' overtime pay topped the charts exponentially) is frequently lost in a bickering match between the controllers' union and the FAA. And counterparts at Boston's Logan International are probing a near-collision at a runway intersection. An Aer Lingus A330 and a US Airways 737 were cleared to take off on intersecting runways. The Airbus lifted off before the intersection while the 737 accelerated toward it. Reports vary on how close the two came but the Aer Lingus pilot has filed a near-collision report, which means he thought they were closer than 500 feet. An anonymous controller told the Boston Globe he considered the two "exceptionally close."