It was another case of “too close for comfort” in Detroit last night.
Around 8:30 pm ET Friday night during landing at the Detroit Metro Airport, a Delta 737 and a small regional jet came within two miles of each other horizontally. Safe flying calls for three miles of separation to be left between planes in the air.
The problem? The air traffic controller’s headset jack wasn’t fully operating. The pilots in each of the two planes could not hear the specific air traffic instructions.
But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the planes were aware they were too close because they could plainly see each other and were never at risk of a collision.
"Air traffic control was aware that they had a situation where separation was less than they would like." Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in a statement.
Both planes landed safely, the headset has now been fixed to allow for proper communication and the FAA is investigating the incident.
But the incident comes amid already heightened traveler tensions, coming just three days after a similar scare locally.
“It’s really scary,” air traveler Nia Booker said at Reagan National Airport today, “Tons of lives at risk. And whether its miscommunication or whatever they should definitely be on top of that type of thing.”
On Tuesday at Reagan National Airport a miscommunication led to a near miss of three planes flying too close. Travelers at Reagan today say they still find the news concerning, some even suggesting if this pace keeps up they’ll find other ways to travel.
“If safety records go down we’ll have to resort to other transportation means,” air traveler Kasshun Begashaw said at Reagan National today.
“If safety requires a higher price than we should be paying the higher price instead of crossing our fingers when we get on a plane,” traveler Barbara Halpern added.
But most travelers today all agreed that any risk is one they are still willing to take.
“I suppose it makes you a little scared to actually hear about it,” traveler Ryan Elliot said, “(but) it’s not going to deter me from flying again.”