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NTSB investigates Minneapolis near-miss

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says a US Airways A320 departing the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in clouds the morning of 16 September may have come within 15m (50ft) vertically of a Bemidji Aviation Services Beech 99 cargo aircraft that had also departed the airport on a parallel runway.

An investigation is underway of the incident, which occurred at 06:49 am after air traffic controllers asked US Airways flight 1848 to "turn left and head west" immediately after takeoff from Runway 30R. The cargo plane, with one pilot aboard and no passengers, had been cleared to takeoff from the parallel runway, 30L, at the same time as Flight 1848 departed. The A320 was carrying 90 passengers and five crew members and was enroute to Philadelphia.

"Neither pilot saw the other aircraft because they were in the clouds, although the captain of the US Airways flight reported hearing the Beech 99 pass nearby," says the NTSB. "Estimates based on recorded radar data indicate that the two aircraft had 50-to-100ft of vertical separation as they passed each other approximately 1,500ft above the ground."

The NTSB says the US Airways aircraft was equipped with a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) that issued climb instructions to the crew to avoid the collision. The Beech 99 was not equipped with TCAS and the pilot was unaware of the proximity of the Airbus, says the agency, adding that there were no reports of damage or injuries from either aircraft.

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