The FAA is conducting an inquiry into a Monday incident between two United Airlines flights at Boston Logan International Airport. “As a tow tug was pushing it back from the gate at Boston Logan International Airport, the right wing of United Airlines Flight 515 struck the tail of United Airlines Flight 267 around 8:30 a.m. local time this morning,” the FAA informed CNN. “Both aircraft were Boeing 737s that were scheduled for departure,” the Federal Aviation Administration added.
After the event, passenger Nicholas Leone captured a snapshot and detailed what had occurred. “I felt a sudden jolt. [Then I] look to my right to see that the plane had crashed into the still plane, ” he recalled. “After seeing the fire trucks and police cars, people were a little rattled. Thankfully everyone was able to offboard quickly.”
People on board reported that the incident was unsettling, per CNN affiliate WHDH in Boston.“It was just a pretty big shake,” explained passenger Martin Neusch. “While we were on the plane, it just clipped the wings. So the two wings clipped each other on the plane.” The outlet reported that travelers from both planes were rescheduled for Monday afternoon flights.
The FAA currently has several ongoing investigations
Monday morning’s near-collision between two planes is just the latest in a series of five close calls experienced this year. One incident occurred as recently as last week at Boston Logan. Last Monday evening, the FAA reported that air traffic controllers prevented a JetBlue flight from crashing into an outgoing private jet as it was arriving to land at Logan Airport.
At the beginning of February, two United aircraft were involved in an accident at Newark airport. The winglet on one of the planes was almost completely destroyed by the impact.
This year, the NTSB has launched investigations into four separate runway incursions. They all involve commercial airliners at major airports in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently investigating a suspected “runway incursion” in Burbank, California concerning Mesa and SkyWest regional carriers. Three other incidences have been recorded at Honolulu, Austin, and New York’s JFK airport this year.
Although these successive events may appear concerning, runway incursions – when an aircraft is located improperly on a runway – are scarce. In fact, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported only 1,732 total such incidents out of an annual average of 16 million flights managed by them last year. Additionally, more than 75% of pilot-error incursions involve non-commercial airline pilots – not those flying commercial airliners.
Anthony Brickhouse, an air safety investigator and associate professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, weighed in on the issue. “The fact that these events are so high profile and garnered so much attention means that eyes are really on it and that exposure is a good thing,” Brickhouse told Business Insider.