The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new details in its ongoing investigation of a near-collision between a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 and a FedEx Boeing 767 cargo plane at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Texas, earlier this year.
The agency collected roughly 3,000 pages of transcripts from interviews with the involved pilots and controllers and other factual data from the incident, which occurred on Feb. 4. The close call is one of several the NTSB has been investigating this year.
Findings confirmed it was the FedEx pilot, not ATC, who narrowly averted disaster when he saw the silhouette of the Southwest aircraft and called for the go-around. In the interview with investigators, FedEx Captain Hugo Carvajal III said he was “annoyed” and “perplexed” when the controller cleared Southwest to take off from the runway he was approaching, noting his initial reaction was an expletive to the effect of “What’s he doing?” according to a report from AP.
Other details revealed Damian Campbell, a U.S. Navy veteran and controller for 13 years, was on duty at the time of the incident. Campbell said he had been on a mandatory six-day workweek. During questioning with investigators, Campbell noted the dense fog that morning and said he could not see the Southwest aircraft from the tower. Campbell told investigators he anticipated a quicker takeoff by the Southwest crew before the FedEx aircraft reached the runway. But in hindsight, he said, he could have made the Southwest aircraft wait.
A probable cause has not yet been released but is expected early next year.