Planes Nearly Collide Over Pittsburgh

Evasive maneuvers prevent mid-air crash after air-traffic trainee errs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2008 9:03 AM CST
Delta Air Lines jets line up on the tarmac in this file photo. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, file)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A quick nosedive by a Delta pilot narrowly averted a mid-air collision of two passenger planes over Pittsburgh this morning, after an air traffic control trainee told a Delta pilot to turn into another jet’s path. The planes, carrying 120 passengers between them, missed each other by a scant 400 feet. The second pilot, flying for PSA, also took evasive action.

"We watched the recording of the incident three times and each time I said, 'Oh my God,'" said a National Air Traffic Controllers spokeswoman. "It was the closest call I have ever seen in my 18 years." Cockpit collision avoidance systems alerted the pilots, and Delta says the passengers “were never in danger.” The Delta flight was en route from Cincinnati to LaGuardia; the PSA from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to Charlotte, NC.