Audio Reveals Confusion During Bradley Airport Runway Scare

Friday, May 24, 2013  |  Updated 10:42 AM EDT
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The Troubleshooters obtained audio recordings from the near miss on the runway at Bradley International Airport.

The Troubleshooters obtained audio recordings from the near miss on the runway at Bradley International Airport.

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An audio recording reveals new details about an incident in which two planes came close to colliding on a runway at Bradley International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, in which two planes came close while crossing runways on May 17.

The audio begins with USAirways Flight 1509 receiving instructions from the tower.  The plane was using Runway 6 to take off.  Meantime, ExpressJet Flight 3822 had been cleared to land on Runway 33, which intersects with Runway 6.

A few moments later, shouts can be heard from the control tower.  An air traffic controller tells one plane to hold short of Runway 6.

It's not yet known how close the two planes came to each other, but the pilots did soon pick up on the confusion.

"We had a guy taking off on six," said one pilot.  "What happened with that whole mess out there?"

The representative in the tower responds by giving a phone number to the pilots.

Ed Garlick is a retired FAA manager-turned aviation consultant.  He listened to the audio and provided his take on what may have happened.

"Not hearing anything from the pilots indicating that, 'oh my God, there's someone right here, we have a risk of collision,' I would have to say that the risk of collision was minimal," Garlick said.

Garlick said the USAirways jet was probably airborne when the ExpressJet was told to hold short of Runway 6.  He said it's hard to tell what was going on in the control tower.

"When the traffic levels start to go down, that's when you really have to increase your situational awareness," Garlick said.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association said it cannot comment at this time because it is a party to the investigation.  A spokesperson for Bradley International Airport also could not comment.

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