Near Collision – 737 & News Helicopter Over Houston

The NTSB has launched an investigation into the near collision of a Southwest Airlines jetliner and a news helicopter over a runway at Houston’s Hobby Airport last week.

At about 12:25 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, April 28, a Southwest Airlines 737, flight 1322 (N242WN) and a Bell 207 news gathering helicopter (N6YJ), came within an estimated 100 feet vertically and 125 feet laterally from each other as both were departing the airport.

The Baltimore-bound 737 with 135 passengers and a crew of five had been cleared to depart from runway 12R. At about the same time the helicopter was cleared to depart from another part of the airport. The near-collision occurred as the helicopter converged into the flight path of the 737 shortly after the jetliner lifted off from the runway. Both crews took evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding.

NTSB investigator Betty Koschig, an air traffic control specialist based in Washington, is traveling to Houston tomorrow to begin the investigation.

This is the second runway safety incident that the NTSB has investigated in the last two weeks. On April 19, a 737 and a small private plane came within about 200 feet of colliding over the airport in Burbank, Calif.