Regional Jet Aborts Landing To Avoid Departing Flight At Burbank


The NTSB and FAA are investigating yet another incursion in which the crew of an inbound aircraft had to abort a landing because there was an aircraft departing on the same runway. The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) is reporting a Skywest Airlines E175 (operating as United Express 5326) was cleared to take off from Runway 33 at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California while a Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 (American 5826) was on short final for the same runway. “The CRJ-900 discontinued the approach and initiate[d] a climb out. At the same time the ERJ-175 continued with its departure, which prompted a TCAS alert on the CRJ-900,” the ASN report says. The alert was a resolution advisory (RA). The incident occurred Feb. 22 just before 7 p.m. local time. The ATC exchange begins at 24 minutes in this LiveATC recording.

The post says the controller ordered the CRJ-900 crew to make a left turn and it eventually returned to Burbank for an uneventful landing. The E175 continued to San Francisco. NBC is reporting the landing aircraft was 1.3 miles from the threshold when the E175 began its roll. It’s not clear how close they came to one another. It’s at least the fourth close call involving airliners in the last few months and similar to one earlier this month in which a Southwest 737 taking off from Austin was overflown by a FedEx 767 that had been cleared to land on the same runway in heavy fog. Weather does not appear to have been a factor in the Burbank incident. The mishap came after FAA Acting Administrator issued a call to action on safety in response to the previous three incursions and a fourth incident in which a Boeing 777 lost almost 2,000 feet shortly after taking off from a Hawaiian 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. There has to be more to this. 1.3 miles from threshold when the departing traffic starts takeoff roll is not that close to justify a go-around by itself between non-heavy planes. Anyone who flies into Midway in VMC knows ATC cuts it just as close sometimes. The TCAS RA is not surprising during the go-around plane proximity to the departing traffic. I am beginning to think that anything that looks out of the ordinary even though it may not be unsafe is being blown out of proportion to sell “news stories”.

    • I’m with you on that. Beginning takeoff roll when another is on a 1.3 mile final, nothing wrong with that. Skinny but just something to watch. The departure just needs to be 6000′ and airborne (like nose wheel lifting off) when the arrival crosses the runway landing threshold. That is much different than the departure only having been cleared for takeoff with the arrival that close. Guess we’ll see.

        • If the departing aircraft is getting airborne, it will not abort unless something catastrophic takes place.
          Thus, such timing is permitted.

        • If a jet has arrived at rotation, it is going to either continue taking off or go way off the end of the runway aborting. In either case, not a factor for the arrival. And squeezing them out in good weather, the controller is now providing visual separation between the two. The controller, being able to see what both are doing would issue a go around for the arrival if the it isn’t going to meet separation requirements. This is totally unlike the FedEx and SWA thing where the controller, because of no visibility, was not providing any visual separation which was the only type that should be used in that situation. This Burbank situation, unless something else comes to light, sounds just like something done all day everyday at most busy airports.

  2. …from the repeated contradictory commands, “turn heading right 270, ummm left 270..” and “turn right 30 degrees… err left 30 degrees…” the controller sounded like she had completely lost situational awareness and probably should have been taken off the position.

  3. It appears the when the departure was over San Fernando Rd, the arrival was northwest of intersection A2-B2. There was 500 ft and 8 knots difference at that time. I’ll speculate and say 1.3 miles from threshold maybe true, but the SKW was probably not on the runway at that time the go around was initiated.

  4. I’m in agreement… she also speaks so fast I’m amazed anyone can understand her directions. As a pilot, I would simply ask her to slow down and/or repeat all xmsns…. my two bits.

  5. If the facts are as reported….Evening VFR and two (profesional) pilots in the same CP both agree that 1.3 miles is TOO close I hope the crew gets debriefed on what too close is. Maybe listen to the CVR as well. This crew would run out of gas trying to land a busy airport. While the tower controller was likely surprised that the crew went around and had to collect thoughts on what to do since this would have been unexpected. We all can’t all be as cool as Maverick when the unexpected happens.

  6. This is really a non-event and would have passed unremarked if not for the current hyped-up “almost was a disaster” news cycle. I agree with Tim, their decision to go around doubtless came as a surprise to the others involved.

  7. This was mostly the case of our antiquated system of party line communication. Stepped on/blocked/cut off transmissions lead to loss of separation along with many other issues. It is actually beneficial to situational awareness for everyone to listen on the same frequency to the controller but everyone talking muddles things up. With ADS-b mandated now, the controller sees the N# of every plane on the screen. A simple IDENT will acknowledge a call instead of repeating everything back with call sign.

  8. How often does this really happen? Years back, (I’m retired now) I was on short final in a Q-400 and cleared to land at a contract tower controlled airport. I was less than 500 feet above threshold when an A-320 taxied into position for take-off. I aborted my landing of course and went around. The tower apologized and said the A-320 took longer than expected (and obviously didn’t look to final) before taking the runway. Nothing more was made of this issue because we all hate paperwork. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have made a bigger issue of this event.

  9. Years ago my Cherokee 6 was cleared to depart by a controller in training. I looked at short final and saw a DC-9 getting ready to land on the runway. I held my position and the tower supervisor took over for the trainee.

    I now fly a Twin Cessna 340 and a variety of King Airs. Whenever I come to a taxiway intersection or enter a runway, I always say verbally, “clear left, clear right”. I have stopped my taxi or delayed a take-off when I did not like the spacing or was not sure what the other airplane was doing. I am the final authority. Not the ATC personnel.

    I will also ask a controller to repeat instructions – if the instructions do not make sense – even if the controller is busy. The controllers are there to serve pilots. We are not flying to serve the controllers.

    A smaller airplane on the frequency (34:20 on the tape) asked the lady controller to just give him vectors to get out of her hair. She asked if he still wanted to land. He said “yes”. She then cleared him to land. Did she really see the big picture and was sure this smaller plane could safely land? At that point, the Tower personnel did not seem like a team that had their part of ATC under control.

  10. This is officially a thing. Today 2/28 the JetBlue evasive action is being reported on. How long before this actually receives the scrutiny it deserves. Wouldn’t be surprising if we see an actual accident – God I hope not