Fedex B763 and Southwest B737 at Austin on Feb 4th 2023, loss of separation on runway resolved by go around

Last Update: June 18, 2024 / 19:36:26 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 4, 2023

Classification
Incident

Airline
Fedex

Flight number
FX-1432

Aircraft Registration
N297FE

Aircraft Type
Boeing 767-300

ICAO Type Designator
B763

Airport ICAO Code
KAUS

A Fedex Federal Express Boeing 767-300, registration N297FE performing flight FX-1432 from Memphis,TN to Austin,TX (USA), was on final for a CATIII ILS approach to Austin's runway 18L and was cleared to land on runway 18L, RVR was at 1400, mid point 600 and roll out 1800 feet, tower also informed the crew that a Boeing 737 would depart prior to their arrival.

About 4 minutes after the 767 was cleared to land a Soutwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, registration N7827A performing flight WN-708 from Austin,TX (USA) to Cancun (Mexico), reported holding short of runway 18L for departure and was cleared for takeoff from runway 18L, tower advised a heavy Boeing 767 was on a 3 mile final. Tower queried about 30 seconds later whether they were on the roll, the crew confirmed they were rolling now. Another 25 seconds later someone advised "Southwest abort, the Fedex was on the go (around)". Tower acknowledged and instructed the 737 to turn right when able. However, the 737 continued takeoff, after liftoff went off the extended runway center line to the right, climbed out, subsequently tower instructed them to turn left and handed them off to departure.

The 767 initiated a go around from about 150 feet AGL about 1000 feet short of the runway threshold, climbed to 3000 feet MSL overflying the runway, turned for a left downwind, positioned for another approach and landed on runway 18L without further incident about 11 minutes after the go around.

The NTSB announced: "The NTSB is investigating a surface event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday, a possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx."

On Mar 3rd 2023 the NTSB released their preliminary report stating: "The AUS ATCT ATM reported an overflight appeared to have occurred; however, the closest proximity has not yet been determined."

The NTSB summarized the sequence of events:

The Austin Airport Air Traffic Control Tower (AUS ATCT) Air Traffic Manager (ATM) stated at the time of the incident, there was an extremely low traffic volume and complexity at AUS. The weather at the time of the incident was low instrument flight rules with the following conditions being reported: wind calm, visibility 1/4 mile in freezing fog, vertical visibility 200 ft above ground level, and a temperature minus 1 degree Celsius.

A review of Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control (ATC) audio recordings indicated that at about 0634, the pilots of FDX1432 established communication with the local controller and reported their flight was inbound and established on a CAT III instrument landing system (ILS) approach to runway 18L. The controller provided the pilots with the runway visual range (RVR) values and cleared them to land. The pilots acknowledged this information.

At 0638:49, the first officer (FO) of SWA708 checked in with the local controller and indicated they were holding short of runway 18L and were ready for takeoff. The controller provided them with RVR values, advised them that a FedEx 767 was on a three-mile final (FDX1432), and issued them a standard takeoff clearance from runway 18L. The FO of SWA708 acknowledged the clearance with a correct readback. SWA708 proceeded to taxi onto runway 18L and lined up with the runway centerline and came to a complete stop at which point, control of the aircraft was transferred from the captain to the FO. The FO indicated that he advanced the power, checked the engines, and then released the brakes to begin their takeoff roll.

At 0639:32, the pilots of FDX1432 queried the local controller to confirm that they were cleared to land on runway 18L. According to the captain of FDX1432, he asked for confirmation because he was concerned about the Southwest traffic. The controller confirmed FDX1432 was cleared to land and advised them of traffic (SWA708) departing runway 18L ahead of him.

At 0640:12, with FDX1432 on an approximate 0.7-mile final, the local controller queried SWA708 to confirm they were on the roll, to which the captain of SWA708 replied “rolling now.” According to the captain of FDX1432, he noted that at an altitude of about 150 feet, the FO called go-around after visually seeing SWA708 at approximately 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet from the approach end of the runway. At 0640:34 one of the FDX1432 crew broadcasted “Southwest abort” and then at 0640:37 broadcasted that “FedEx is on the go.” According to the SWA708 pilot narratives, the captain noted that somewhere between the speeds of 80 KIAS and V1, he and the first officer heard FedEx call for a go-around.

A review of preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data revealed that when FDX1432 was at the departure end of the runway climbing out of 1,900 feet, the controller instructed FDX1432 to turn left heading 080 and maintain 3,000 feet. At the same time, SWA708 was about 1,000 ft lower than FDX1432 and began a right turn away from the runway heading.

On Nov 30th 2023 the NTSB released their investigation docket still not mentioning the minimum separation between the aircraft. However, it appears from the ADS-B data, the 767 overflew the 737 at a height of about 100 feet. According to the report by the chairman of the operational factors group the 767 was already closer than 0.7nm to the runway threshold descending through about 150 feet radar altitude when the first officer spotted the 737 and called for a go around, a go around was promptly initiated, the first officer attempted to call the Southwest to abort their takeoff, the Southwest crew heard the Fedex crew announcing their go around when they were accelerating between 80 knots and V1.

Following a board meeting on Jun 6th 2024 the NTSB released an executive summary including conclusions about the causes also stating that the final report is due to be released in a matter of weeks. The board meeting concluded the probable causes of the incident were:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this incident was the local controller’s incorrect assumption that the Southwest Airlines (SWA) airplane would depart from the runway before the Federal Express airplane arrived on the same runway, which resulted in a loss of separation between both airplanes. Contributing to the controller’s incorrect assumption were

- his expectation bias regarding the SWA airplane’s departure,

- his lack of situational awareness regarding the SWA airplane’s position when the flight crew requested takeoff clearance, and

- the air traffic control tower’s lack of training (before the incident) on low-visibility operations.

Contributing to the incident was the SWA flight crewmembers’ failure to account for the traffic that was on short final approach and to notify the controller that they would need additional time on the runway before the takeoff roll. Also contributing to the incident was the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to require surface detection equipment at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and direct alerting for flight crews.

The NTSB summarized the sequence of events:

This incident involved Southwest Airlines (SWA) flight 708, a Boeing 737-700, and Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) flight 1432, a Boeing 767-300, which were involved in a runway incursion at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Austin, Texas. The local controller had cleared the SWA airplane for takeoff on runway 18L and instructed the FedEx airplane to continue its approach to the same runway. The controller was unable to see the SWA airplane on the taxiway and runway because of dense fog, and the AUS air traffic control tower (ATCT) did not have surface detection equipment to aid the controller in monitoring ground traffic.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) procedures required the controller to apply a 2-mile separation between the airplanes. However, when the SWA airplane lined up with the runway 18L centerline and came to a complete stop (so that the flight crew could perform an engine run-up), the FedEx airplane was 1.5 miles away.

The separation between both airplanes continued to decrease until the FedEx flight crew saw the outline of the SWA airplane through the fog and began a missed approach. At that time, the FedEx airplane had just crossed the runway 18L threshold, and the SWA airplane was 1,020 ft down the runway. The airplanes were separated at their closest point by 150 to 170 ft (which was less than the 180-ft length of the FedEx Boeing 767 airplane).

The FedEx airplane continued to climb, and the SWA airplane continued to accelerate, which increased the separation between the airplanes. The SWA airplane lifted off and continued to its planned destination. The FedEx airplane circled to the left and landed on runway 18L without further incident.

On Jun 18th 2024 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable causes of the incident were:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this incident was the local controller’s incorrect assumption that the Southwest Airlines (SWA) airplane would depart from the runway before the Federal Express airplane arrived on the same runway, which resulted in a loss of separation between both airplanes. Contributing to the controller’s incorrect assumption were

- his expectation bias regarding the SWA airplane’s departure,
- his lack of situational awareness regarding the SWA airplane’s position
when the flight crew requested takeoff clearance, and
- the air traffic control tower’s lack of training (before the incident) on
low-visibility operations.

Contributing to the incident was the SWA flight crewmembers’ failure to account for the traffic that was on short final approach and to notify the controller that they would need additional time on the runway before the takeoff roll. Also contributing to the incident was the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to require surface detection equipment at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and direct alerting for flight crews.




Metars:
KAUS 041453Z 15003KT 1/8SM R36R/0800FT FG VV002 04/04 A3041 RMK AO2 SLP304 T00390039 58004=
KAUS 041353Z 00000KT 1/8SM R36R/0800V1000FT FG VV002 01/01 A3044 RMK AO2 SLP314 T00060006=
KAUS 041341Z 00000KT 1/8SM R36R/1000V1200FT FG VV002 01/01 A3043 RMK AO2 T00060006=
KAUS 041323Z 00000KT 1/8SM R36R/1000FT FZFG VV002 00/00 A3043 RMK AO2 T00000000=
KAUS 041253Z 00000KT 1/8SM R36R/1800V2400FT FZFG VV002 M01/M01 A3043 RMK AO2 SLP309 T10061006=
KAUS 041247Z 00000KT 1/8SM R36R/1800V2400FT FZFG VV002 M01/M01 A3043 RMK AO2=
KAUS 041218Z 00000KT 1/4SM R36R/1800V2400FT FZFG VV002 M01/M01 A3043 RMK AO2 T10061006=
KAUS 041200Z 00000KT 1/4SM R36R/1800V2400FT FZFG SCT002 M01/M01 A3042 RMK AO2 T10061006=
KAUS 041153Z 00000KT 1/4SM R36R/1800V2400FT FG SCT002 02/M01 A3043 RMK AO2 SLP309 T00171011 10028 21022 56011=
KAUS 041133Z 00000KT 1/4SM R36R/1800V2400FT FG SCT002 02/M01 A3043 RMK AO2 T00171006=
KAUS 041053Z 00000KT 1/2SM R36R/1800V2400FT FG SCT002 02/M01 A3043 RMK AO2 SLP308 T00221006=
KAUS 041008Z 00000KT 3/4SM R36R/1800V2400FT BR SCT002 02/M01 A3044 RMK AO2 T00221006=
KAUS 040953Z 00000KT 3/4SM R36R/1200V1800FT BR SCT002 02/M01 A3044 RMK AO2 SLP314 T00221006=
Aircraft Registration Data
Registration mark
N297FE
Country of Registration
United States
Date of Registration
PAjbnkeeqgnlfqpej Subscribe to unlock
Manufacturer
BOEING
Aircraft Model / Type
767-32LF
Number of Seats
ICAO Aircraft Type
B763
Year of Manufacture
Serial Number
Aircraft Address / Mode S Code (HEX)
Engine Count
Engine Manufacturer
Engine Model
Engine Type
Pounds of Thrust
Main Owner
Dk pmnA fkdAkhkbnlbmnhbphhjicimgg bkqdkjjc kjjbijAkA clbflmmncgfgcfmAffgjbhcghpkdpifmc hdnedflA cbqceqphqbqcl Subscribe to unlock
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 4, 2023

Classification
Incident

Airline
Fedex

Flight number
FX-1432

Aircraft Registration
N297FE

Aircraft Type
Boeing 767-300

ICAO Type Designator
B763

Airport ICAO Code
KAUS

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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