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FAA investigating close call involving JetBlue plane at Boston airport

Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

(BOSTON) — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating another close call involving two jets at Boston Logan International Airport. The FAA said a Learjet took off from a runway without clearance from air traffic control while a JetBlue flight was preparing to land on an intersecting runway.

The agency said air traffic control instructed the Learjet pilot to line up and wait on runway 9 while the JetBlue plane landed on an intersecting runway. The Learjet pilot read back the instructions, “but began a takeoff roll instead,” the FAA said in a statement.

The JetBlue pilot “took evasive action and initiated a climb-out as the Learjet crossed the intersection,” the FAA said.

The agency did not say how close the planes were to each other.

In a statement to ABC News, JetBlue said, “Safety is JetBlue’s first priority and our crews are trained to react to situations like this. We will assist authorities as they investigate this incident.”

The incident, first reported by NBC News, is the latest in a series of recent close calls under investigation by the FAA.

In December of last year, a United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco experienced a sudden loss in altitude over the Pacific Ocean. Shortly after takeoff from Maui, the Boeing 777 dropped to just 775 feet above the water in less than 20 seconds, according to data from FlightRadar24. The plane was then able to regain altitude and continue on to its final destination.

In January, an American Airlines flight crossed a runway at New York’s JFK Airport without clearance from air traffic control. A Delta Air Lines flight was taking off from that same runway and was forced to abort its takeoff, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The two aircraft came within about 1,400 feet of each other, according to a preliminary report from the NTSB.

In another January incident, a United Airlines flight crossed a runway at Honolulu International Airport without clearance from air traffic control. A Cessna was landing on the same runway at the time, the FAA said. The Cessna came to a stop approximately 1,170 feet from the United flight, according to the agency.

In February, a FedEx cargo plane was cleared to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas, just as a Southwest flight was cleared to take off from the same runway, according to the FAA.

As the FedEx plane was landing, the Southwest plane began its takeoff; the planes came within 100 feet of each other, according to the NTSB.

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen announced earlier this month the agency would establish a safety review team to examine the nation’s aerospace system — saying the group will look at structure, culture, systems and integration of safety efforts.

“We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted,” Nolen said in a hearing on Capitol Hill. “Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent. Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions.”

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