FAA Probes Denver ATC Error

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The FAA is investigating an ATC operational error in which two regional jets on approach to Denver International Airport converged within two miles laterally and 200 feet vertically. The incident occurred on November 23. According to ABC News, the two aircraft were being vectored into the arrival stream for DIA, one on the SAYGE SIX arrival, another possibly being vectored to join the arrival. SAYGE is an arrival fix on the procedure and one of the aircraft which had already passed the fix was mistakenly give a clearance to proceed "direct SAYGE."

The aircraft commenced a near 180-degree turn that put it into the face of the other arriving traffic. The FAA reported that the two targets merged on ATC radar display, although it wasn't clear if they were referring to Center or TRACON radar. In Center airspace, ATC uses a five mile separation standard, while three miles applies in terminal airspace. Both aircraft reportedly resolved the conflict with TCAS resolution advisories. An FAA spokesman said the operational error is coded as a B-level incident, the second most serious.