Near Miss Between Southwest Jet, Citation Under Investigation

The incident occurred when both aircraft were reportedly assigned to the same runway at San Diego International Airport.

The FAA is investigating a near-miss incident between a Cessna Citation and a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 after both were assigned to the same runway at San Diego International Airport. [Credit: Shutterstock]

How close did they get?

That's the question the FAA is trying to answer in regard to a near-miss incident between a Cessna Citation and a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 at San Diego International Airport (KSAN) last week.

In an interview with CNN, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the Citation came within 100 feet of the airliner. The incident occurred shortly before noon PDT Friday.

According to an FAA spokesperson, an air traffic controller had cleared the Citation to land on Runway 27 then instructed Southwest Flight 2493 to taxi onto that runway and wait for instructions to depart.

"The facility’s automated surface surveillance system alerted the controller about the developing situation," the agency said in a statement. "A preliminary review of the event showed that an air traffic controller instructed the pilot of a Cessna Citation business jet to discontinue landing because a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 was still on the runway awaiting clearance to depart."

According to CNN, archived ATC audio indicated the pilot of the Citation apparently noticed the Southwest 737 on the runway, as the Citation pilot transmitted "Verify Four Hotel Victor is still clear to land?"

The tower controller replied, “Citation Four Hotel Victor go around, fly the published missed approach." The Citation pilot replied, “Alright, going around, Four Hotel Victor,” and aborted the landing.

The Southwest flight was then instructed to taxi clear of the runway because there was another airliner on a 2-mile final.

"We’re participating in the FAA’s internal review regarding an incident that occurred Friday just before noon local time at the San Diego International Airport, where a Southwest aircraft was cleared onto the same runway that a Cessna Citation aircraft was also cleared to land," Southwest said in a statement. "Our aircraft departed without event and the flight operated normally, with a safe landing in San Jose [California] as scheduled."

According to an FAA spokesperson, the agency is sending experts to San Diego to investigate. "The team will determine the closest proximity between the airplanes as part of the review," the spokesperson said.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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