A Southwest Airlines 737 and a Bell 407 news helicopter nearly collided above a runway at Houston's Hobby Airport last week, the NTSB said on Monday. The two aircraft came within 125 feet vertically and 100 feet laterally as both were departing the field, the safety board said. Both aircraft had been cleared to depart. The 737 was on Runway 12R and the helicopter was departing from "another part of the airport," according to the NTSB. Shortly after the 737 lifted off from the runway, the helicopter converged into its flight path. Both flight crews executed evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. The incident was the second near-collision in just two weeks, the NTSB said. The first occurred on April 19 when a 737 and a Cessna 172 got too close above Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif.
The latest incident occurred about noontime last Wednesday, April 28. The NTSB noted that improving runway safety has been on its "Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements" since 1999. The NTSB has made several suggestions to the FAA, such as requiring aircraft to have moving map displays of the airport, and requiring a specific clearance from air traffic control for each runway to be crossed. It's not yet clear what happened at Houston to allow the aircraft to end up so close together.