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Safety officials investigate S.F. near-collision

Federal safety officials are investigating a near-collision among two regional airlines at San Francisco International Airport last month.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Federal safety officials are investigating a near-collision among two regional airlines at San Francisco International Airport last month.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday it is looking into a May 26 incident in which an air traffic controller cleared a SkyWest Airlines jet for landing and also cleared a Republic Airlines flight departing for Los Angeles for takeoff on an intersecting runway.

An automated radar system alerted the air traffic controller to the error, and the Republic Airlines crew was able to take off early, missing the SkyWest plane by 30 to 150 feet, according to estimates from crews of both planes in a preliminary NTSB report.

Mark Rosenker, chairman of the NTSB, has urged the Federal Aviation Administration to develop ground safety systems for large and small airports to protect passengers from runway crashes.

The FAA has said it plans to adopt new rules that would make technology used to prevent runway accidents more affordable for airlines. Last year, there were 31 serious domestic runway accidents or close calls, compared with 53 in 2001, according to the FAA.

Over the winter, a plane owned by UAL Corp.'s United Airlines came within 200 feet of a snowplow when landing at Denver International Airport.

That incident came just weeks after a Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. jet attempting to land in Denver came within 50 feet of a smaller charter plane that had inadvertently entered the runway.