In the past couple of years we’ve seen a lot of stories of close call at airports, and collisions between planes that were narrowly avoided. In this case two planes actually did collide on the runway, though fortunately there were no injuries.
Private jet takes off without permission, clips other plane
This incident happened at around 4PM CT on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at Houston Hobby Airport (HOU). According to the FAA, a Hawker 25B private jet departed from runway 22 at Hobby Airport without permission, and it collided with a Cessna C510 private jet that was landing on runway 13R (and had received permission), as the two runways intersect.
The good news is that no injuries were reported. However, the damage is pretty significant, with the left wing of the plane taking off having clipped the tail of the plane landing. The aircraft that had taken off without permission and was damaged managed to safely return to Houston Hobby Airport minutes later, for an emergency landing.
The airport ended up being shut down for around four hours, given the debris on the runway plus the need to investigate.
Below is the VASAviation video about the incident, which contains both the air traffic control audio, and a visualization of what happened. However, the ATC audio only starts following the incident.
It remains to be seen why a jet took off without permission
It’s pretty clear that the pilots of the jet that was taking off were at fault here, as they hadn’t received permission to depart. The investigation will center around why they decided to take off — were they distracted, did they misunderstand certain instructions, or what?
I imagine this situation must have been terrifying for those onboard both aircraft. Thank goodness the planes just clipped one another, because I imagine if the timing were even half a second different, this could have had a much more catastrophic ending.
Listening to the air traffic control audio, the aircraft departing was told to climb up to 3,000 feet (presumably before air traffic controllers knew what had happened), and here’s how that interaction goes:
Pilot: “We just had a mid-air, we can’t do that.”
Air traffic controller: “Say what?”
Pilot: “Yeah, somebody just — you guys cleared somebody to take off or land and we hit them on departure.”
Air traffic controller: “Yes sir, you need to come back to the airport you said, right?”
Pilot: “Yeah, immediately!”
I imagine the pilot was probably pretty frazzled, but he sure seems to have an attitude, given that he’s the one who is at fault. I imagine that was just the stress in the moment. It’s also interesting how he acknowledges that the other plane had been cleared by air traffic control, which makes you wonder why they decided to depart?
Two private jets collided on intersecting runways at Houston Hobby Airport. One jet had been cleared to land, while the other jet reportedly took off without permission. Thank goodness that it was just a wing hitting a tail. If the timing had been even slightly different, this could have had a catastrophic ending.
What do you make of this incident?