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China Eastern Airlines

‘Near collision’ at Shanghai airport: China Eastern plane takes off as another jet crosses runway

Air traffic controllers might be to blame for jets coming close to collision, preliminary investigation finds

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 10:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 11:52pm

Error by air traffic controllers appeared to have caused a “near collision” between two planes at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport on Tuesday, the civil aviation authority said.

An Airbus A320 jet was taking off from a runway as an Airbus A330 was taxiing across its path, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Wednesday in an initial finding into the incident.

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Both planes were owned by China Eastern Airlines, news portal Eastday.com reported. The number of passengers aboard the two planes was not immediately clear.

The captain of the A320 had been cleared for take-off by air traffic control, but he quickly discovered another plane was using the same runway, according to the report.

The captain decided to continue with the take-off – and his plane rose just above the taxiing aircraft, the report said. No one was injured.

An unnamed official with the regional division of the aviation administration told Eastday.com the planes were separated by enough distance so that even if the first plane had remained on the runway, they would not have ­collided.

The preliminary finding suggested the incident was the result of error by air-traffic control staff, the administration said in a notice. An investigation team had contacted the individuals involved and retrieved all communication logs, radar records as well as both black boxes. A full investigation was continuing, according to the notice.

China Eastern Airlines said on its Weibo account that flight crews were following air-traffic control instructions and made a timely response to the situation.

Qi Qi, an aviation expert based in Guangzhou, said the incident could have been the result of a lack of communication between controllers.

Mainland internet users said passengers were lucky the captain was experienced, while others commenters called for more industry regulations. Such incidents happened when an airport was so busy, Qi said.

The airport ranked sixth in handling volume last year, with nearly 40 million passengers, according to a report released by the aviation ­administration.