Charter Jet Almost Hit Four Planes While Landing in Philadelphia

(Bloomberg) -- A charter jet missed four taxiing airplanes by as little as 200 feet after it mistakenly lined up with a taxiway instead of the nearby runway, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The Aug. 10 incident at Philadelphia International Airport is one of at least four similar cases since July 7, 2017, when an Air Canada plane missed four others on the ground in San Francisco by only a few feet. Collisions between airliners on the ground have been among the most deadly kinds of aviation accidents.

A Gulfstream IV charter jet operated by Pegasus Elite Aviation was cleared to land on runway 35, but instead pilots aimed for a parallel stretch of pavement just to the left, the NTSB said in a preliminary report. The pilot aborted the landing and started climbing about 1/10 of a mile before the runway. It flew just 200 feet (61 meters) above an Embraer SA regional jet and then passed above the three other planes, NTSB said.

There were no injuries or damage to the planes, the NTSB said. Lights identifying the end of the runway where the Pegasus jet should have landed were out of service, as were lights marking the approach path, the NTSB said.

The NTSB’s preliminary report does not provide a probable cause for the incident.

The Gulfstream IV, made by a division of General Dynamics Corp., is one of the larger long-range corporate jets on the market.

In a 2017 incident, an Air Canada plane tried to land on a taxiway at San Francisco International Airport. The plane came within 59 feet (18 meters) of the ground and the first plane it passed over has a tail that is 56 feet high, according to NTSB and aircraft manufacturer data.

NTSB is holding a meeting on Sept. 25 to conclude the cause of the San Francisco incident.

The agency is also investigating an incident on Dec. 29 in which a Horizon Air flight landed on a taxiway in Pullman, Washington. No one was injured. Horizon is owned by Alaska Air Group Inc.

A Delta Air Lines Inc. plane also lined up with a taxiway instead of the runway in Atlanta on Nov. 29, according to the NTSB. It came within 60 feet (18 meters) of the ground before climbing.

The NTSB has warned about the risk of collisions on the ground for decades. The highest death toll ever recorded in an airline accident occurred on the ground when two Boeing Co. 747s collided on a runway in 1977 in Tenerife, Canary Islands, killing 574 people.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.