Departing Hawker 800, Landing Mustang Collide, No Injuries


The FAA says a Hawker 800 “departed without permission” and collided with a Cessna Mustang landing on an intersecting runway at Houston Hobby Airport on Tuesday. The pilot of the airborne Hawker told a controller “We just had a midair,” but some reports said the two aircraft brushed each other on the runway. There were no reported injuries. A screen capture from a video by KHOU shows a chunk missing from the tail of the Mustang. From news video it appears the Hawker’s wing clipped the Mustang’s tail.

The Hawker pilot apparently believed he had the runway because he laid fault for the mishap on the controllers. “You guys cleared somebody to land or take off and we hit him on the departure,” he said on a LiveATC recording posted by an X (formerly Twitter) account named Planes. But the FAA tweeted that the Hawker had not been cleared. “A twin-engine Hawker H25B departed without permission from Runway 22 @HobbyAirport at 4 PM today when it collided with a twin-engine Cessna C510 that was landing on Runway 13 Right,” the agency said in its tweet. It’s not clear how much damage the Hawker received, but it made it back to the airport.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. If the Hawker did take off without a clearance it makes me wonder what the controllers were doing while the Hawker was departing vs. waiting. Certainly the controllers were not keeping tabs of their traffic. As I recall it is over 4,000’ from the departure end of 22 to the 13R intersection. That is a long time for a controller not to notice an errant aircraft on a takeoff roll. I suspect the CVR of the Hawker will tell a big story as well.

    Thankfully this event turned out as well as it did.

    • As a retired controller, I found that during my career, that VFR tower guys were the best at working local. They didn’t have BRITE scopes in the cab, and had to look out the window. Go to bigger airports, and it is not uncommon for a local controller to have his head stuck in the BRITE scope way too much time, instead of looking out the windows.

  2. Here we are again. Our dependence upon saturated voice communications is long overdue for change. A partial list of voice-com fallibilities includes: blocked transmissions, non-native English speakers, mis-understandings, too much to convey in too little time. Everyone doing their best to make it work. Too often it’s just dumb luck that saves the day. There’s got’a be a better way. Someone smarter than me needs to figure it out sooner rather than later.

  3. There has been pressure to increase throughput at all major airports- is this a symptom of that? Did this case of the Hawker include a LUAW? Should LUAW be a thing of the past? Thank goodness no one died!

    • It is my understanding that LUAW was normal instructions around the world.
      The FAA instituted LUAW to normalize instructions matching the rest of the world. The old “position and hold” seemed a positive succinct instruction to me. I’ve had LUAW instructions and the controller jus lets it “roll” out. If a pilot wasn’t listening carefully, the directive could be miss-understood, especially for a “novice” pilot.
      Re controllers whose native language is not English: While I understand “discrimination” in hiring is “out the window” if controllers with an accent are going to be hired, then the FAA needs to send them to elocution training to help minimize their accent.

  4. LUAW causes confusion. Am I cleared for tkof. or not? Once you are in position you can’t see traffic on final and have to rely totally on the controller, a bad procedure.

      • I never found “position and hold” unclear, speaking as a tower operator from 1956 to 1979 – as a pilot (1961), and familiar with Japanese and Korean pilots and controllers phraseology in 1960. The adoption of “line up and wait” has shown it never cleared up anything.

    • That’s puzzling. “Line Up And Wait” means exactly and only that. If you did not hear the controller say the magic words “Cleared to take off”, you don’t roll. The information I’ve seen give no indication that the Hawker was ever cleared to take off.

  5. What the critics of the controller don’t understand is if in a busy operation, we have 3,4,5 activities that will need our immediate attention. We then somehow prioritize them very quickly and after first issue is set for the moment, we then immediately act on the next. Sometime this can be turning to another controller for coordination, sometimes acting at a runway that can be off your shoulder or even completely behind you. The first operation is in you mind at that moment as safely doing whatever they were last assigned to do. And while you’re not necessarily looking at him, just making assumption (I know, bad word) he is doing the right thing at the moment. Then after you proceed through the next one or two immediate concerns, you’ll then get back to the first with you attention. Tower or radar, busy facility, this occurs all day. We just don’t sit and stare at one activity at a time.

    • How about LISTENING to the Tower and, if at all afflicted by brain fog… confirm you are cleared for TAKEOFF. LUAW has been our reality for decades. The Hawker pilot was not paying attention. Was the pilot still twisting knobs and reviewing clearances as the aircraft rolled across the hold line (or before)? The Hawker pilot owns this one.

      • Decades? September 30, 2010 for the U.S. LUAW was used widely throughout the remainder of ICAO for decades.

  6. Controllers generally do great, but occasionally they become distracted, unbeknownst to the pilot. One day I had an early morning flight to Eugene Oregon. When I arrived, I requested RW 16. That request was declined due to a mowing operation adjacent. Not a problem. We landed on RW 24 (I think). During roll-out I requested taxi to the FBO. There was no response and I missed that. I made the turn and proceeded to cross the “closed” RW to the FBO. Shortly, the controller informed me I had crossed an “active” RW, and proceeded to tell me he had been on the phone talking with the on-field fire department and couldn’t answer my call. (Who would have taken priority in this instance?). Needless to say I had to utilize the “get out of jail” card. Ultimately a conversation with the FAA out of the PDX FSDO who agreed with me that a pilot request should take priority over a controller talking with airport “staff”. The issue was resolved and was never placed on my record. Just an instance of a controller failing to prioritize his duties.

  7. LUAW & it’s predecessor Position and Hold have always been a significant source of errors, with pilots rolling without clearance, controllers forgetting they put someone there, etc. It doesn’t help that it’s primarily used when things are busy and there is a lot of air, ground and communications traffic. In some locations, airport operators have elected to abandon or restrict the use of the procedure in response to what they feel have been too many incidents.

    Training should emphasize that when you are given the instruction it should be a mental flag to you that this is something a little bit “special” and that its proper execution will demand your uninterrupted attention.

    • I’ve never understood the problem with Position and Hold (or LUAW). After getting a LUAW, my primary concern is someone landing on top of me because the controller forgot me there, I’ve never thought I was “cleared” to do anything. Still, I guess statistics have shown this is an area of confusion, so better to deal with reality than the wishful “no one could possibly screw this up”.

  8. The end of the runway from KHOU ATCT to where the Hawker failed their LUAW instruction is about two miles. As stated earlier by another comment, an IFR tower makes looking out the window secondary it seems. This is a failure to not reinforce visual confirmations during clear weather. There was an arrival push during this event and it isn’t clear yet whether the runway 13 local controller was the same as the runway 22 local controller. One voice did inform the Hawker or someone else that traffic was holding at the intersection. That could have been a misinterpretation by the Hawker to takeoff. NTSB will sort that out.
    KHOU ATCT is equipped with an ASDE, assuming it is in service, it was not used to ensure the Hawker remained in position, another failure. KIAH ATCT up the highway utilizes ASDE-X which has a programmed annunciation when collision parameters are invaded. It has saved the bacon of many an airline passenger and vehicle operator in the runway area over the last few years. Another admission that the human element can be distracted or not utilize all of their tools to ensure safety.
    ATC did well here after the fact, other than the local controller turned the damaged Hawker aircraft into a landing SWA 737, I believe SWA1644. That controller was a bit late giving the SWA avoidance instructions.