This past Monday a CRJ700 operated by Mesa Airlines with 60 souls on board narrowly missed a Cessna coming within ten (10') feet of the Cessna on the airstrip. At the time an air traffic controller trainee was handling traffic, and thought that the Cessna had departed the active runway.
In fact the Cessna pilot had missed his turnoff and advised the tower just after the controller trainee had given the Mesa jet clearance to take off. The alert pilots saw the Cessna and swerved around the Cessna aircraft and aborted their takeoff run. Fortunately this incident resulted in no injuries to anyone.
The time of the incident was 7:45pm, or just about dusk. During the past fiscal year there were 23 serious incidents of planes getting too close to each other on runways. The controller trainee had been certified to work the airport tower position by himself.
Once again we see a case of where see and be seen worked well, and it points out the importance of being vigilant at all times while operating an aircraft. However, this incident raises two questions in my mind:
First, did the Cessna pilot confirm exiting the runway, or was it just assumed he had?
Second, was the crew of the CRJ700 paying attention to the communications with the tower, and should they have known the Cessna had not yet departed the runway?
I am sure the NTSB and FAA will seek answers to these questions.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.