FAA investigating possible close call between Southwest flight and air traffic control tower

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Southwest flight that veered off course while on approach to land at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and could have bypassed the air traffic control tower with as little as 67 feet clearance, CBS News has learned.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, when the pilots of Southwest Flight 147 aborted their first approach due to bad weather. While on final approach to their second landing attempt, an air traffic controller can be heard urgently telling the Boeing 737 pilots to “go around” and climb to 2,000 feet.

“Go around! Go around!” Fly to runway heading, climb and hold 2000. Climb and hold 2000. 2000,” the air traffic controller said.

The plane reportedly drifted east and was no longer aligned with the runway. Preliminary flight tracking data from Flightradar24 placed the airliner at an altitude of 300 feet when it began to climb. The FAA said it was investigating to see if the jetliner that veered off course flew over the 233-foot-tall air traffic control tower.

Flightradar24’s flight tracking map placed the plane over the terminal, not the runway. It appears the plane flew over the parking lot immediately adjacent to the air traffic control tower, based on Flightradar24’s approximate trajectory.

The same controller told the pilots a few minutes later that their plane “was not aligned with the runway at all. It was like east of final. It was not going to land on the runway.”

The airline said there were 147 passengers and six crew members on the flight from Nashville.

Southwest told CBS News the airline was “reviewing the event as part of our safety systems.” The carrier said the plane encountered turbulence and low visibility as it approached LGA.

Southwest Flight 147 chose to divert briefly to Baltimore/Washington International Airport, where it landed safely. He eventually landed safely in New York.

Bad weather led to other go-arounds at LaGuardia, including JetBlue Flight 698, which was attempting to land around the same time. These pilots reported experiencing wind shear.


Back to top button