Near-Collision at Baltimore Airport Demonstrates Runway Dangers Exposed in Recent Report

Two planes carrying more than 200 passengers nearly crashed into each other Sunday at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, just days before another near-collision at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The close calls only exemplify the type of runway dangers congressional investigators warned about in a report released Wednesday saying there is "a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision occurring in the United States" because of faltering federal leadership, malfunctioning technology and overworked air traffic controllers.

The Baltimore Sun reported Saturday that the incident in Baltimore happened at 7:20 p.m. Sunday, as ComAir Flight 5412 was taking off and U.S. Airways/America West Flight 83 was cruising along the runway just after landing.

The ComAir plane took off and flew just 300 feet above the other flight where the runways intersect.

Click here to read The Baltimore Sun article.

The Sun reported that the incident is being investigated as "an action by an air traffic controller that results in less than the required minimum separation between two aircraft."

Similarly, reported that two Continental Airline jets came within 300 feet of each other Thursday night at Newark Liberty International Airport .

The report said the Federal Aviation Administration said one pilot was instructed to "hold short" of the runway, but went ahead anyway just as the other jet was landing.

Click here to read the report.

Such runway safety "incursions" were highlighted in a congressional report Wednesday.

The report found that in fiscal 2007, the incidents spiked to 370, or 6.05 runway incursions per 1 million air traffic control operations, almost returning to 2001's peak 407 incursions and 6.1 rate.

An incursion is any aircraft, vehicle or person that goes where it shouldn't be in space reserved for take-off or landing.

The report ranked Newark Liberty International Airport as one of the most dangerous U.S. airports for runway accidents.