May 23, 2014 11:42 am
Updated: May 23, 2014 7:52 pm

Vancouver-bound flight has 400-feet near miss at Houston airport


WATCH: Two planes flying out of Houston’s George H. W. Bush international Airport, one bound for Vancouver, were involved in an incident that brought them within 121 metres of each other. Shirlee Engel has the details about how close they came to crossing paths.

TORONTO – A Vancouver-bound United Airlines flight came within 400 feet of another flight during takeoff from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

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According to KHOU 11 News, United Flight 601 was departing for Vancouver on May 9 at the same time as Mexico City-bound Flight 437.

READ MORE: Airline safety: How often are there ‘near-misses’ in Canada?

Flight 601 took off from runway 13 and was headed in an easterly direction, while Flight 437 departed from runway 9, heading southeast. According to the CBS affiliate, the Vancouver-bound flight was told by air traffic controllers to turn right instead of left, putting the planes in a direct path of each other.

“You all basically crossed directly over the top of each other,” KHOU 11 News reported one pilot as saying.

The other said: “That’s what it looked like from my perspective. I have no idea what was going on over there in the tower. But, you know, it was pretty gnarly looking.”

All air traffic communications are recorded.

According to the Houston news broadcast, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the air traffic controller who ordered the change of course realized the error and ordered both planes to separate.

The planes came within a second or two from impact.

The FAA is investigating.

United has not yet commented on the incident.

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