The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report of a near miss at Philadelphia International Airport in August in which a private charter jet nearly landed on a taxiway occupied by four commercial passenger planes.
The NTSB’s investigation of the near miss remains ongoing and it could take several more months for the investigative agency to wrap up its probe of the Aug. 10 incident, but the early report provides some harrowing detail of what looks like a pilot error that could have turned into a major catastrophe.
According to the NTSB report, PEGJET Flight 19, a Gulfstream IV airplane operated by Pegasus Elite Aviation, was making a visual approach to the Philly airport. The jet, which was carrying four passengers and three crew members, was cleared to land on runway 35.
At about 8:50 p.m., the charter jet aligned with taxiway E instead of runway 35. There were four commercial air carrier passenger jets queued on the taxiway awaiting clearance for takeoff.
One-tenth of a mile from the taxiway, the Pegasus jet aborted the landing and initiated a go-around. The NTSB’s preliminary report estimates that the plane overflew the first jet on the taxiway – an Embraer ERJ-145, by just 200 feet. It then overflew an Embraer ERJ-175, a Canadair CRJ-700, and another Embraer EJ-145.
The Pegasus jet made a successful go-around and landed without incident. There were no injuries.
Due to the potentially catastrophic nature of the incident, the NTSB initiated an investigation of the near miss the following day after the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) notified it of the error.
The NTSB said the cockpit voice recorder from the Pegasus jet had already been overwritten by the time it was accessed. Investigators pulled the flight data recorder from the airplane and sent it to the NTSB laboratory in Washington D.C. for download and analysis.
The NTSB is currently also investigating a near miss at San Francisco International Airport in July 2017 involving a Canada Air jet, which will be the subject of an NTSB meeting scheduled for Sept. 25. The NTSB is also investigating why a Horizon Air jet with 42 people aboard landed on a taxiway instead of the runway in Pullman, Washington last December.