A Delta Air Lines plane nearly landed on a taxiway that was occupied by another plane at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, federal accident investigators said Wednesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it has opened an investigation into the Nov. 29 incident. Delta flight 2196 had been cleared to land and initially lined up with a runway, but about a mile from the airport the plane began to veer left and lined up with a taxiway where another Delta plane was waiting, according to a preliminary report by the board.
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The Boeing B737, which was arriving from Indianapolis, descended to about 100 feet off the ground before aborting the landing and circling back for another try, the report said. When the plane pitched upward to begin its ascent in order to abort the landing, its tail reached as low as 60 feet off the ground, the report said.
Despite the low altitude, the Delta plane didn't fly over the top of the plane on the taxiway, the report said.
Delta spokesman Michael Thomas said the airline would work with the NTSB on its investigation.
The first officer was at the controls of the Delta plane during the aborted landing and the captain was monitoring, the report said. The first officer told investigators that he was initially too far to the right to line up for the runway and corrected to the left, but apparently "overcorrected," the report said.
The NTSB was already investigating a July 7 incident in which an Air Canada plane nearly landed on a taxiway in San Francisco that already had four fully loaded and fueled planes lined up and waiting for takeoff.
The deadliest accident in aviation history occurred on March 27, 1977 at the Tenerife airport in the Canary Islands when two Boeing 747s collided on a runway, killing 583 people.
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