Phillies’ Team Plane in a Close Call

I'm often amazed that we don't hear about more incidents for sports teams, given how much they travel by plane, bus, and even train.  You just kind of take for granted that teams will be in a given city on a given day- but there is a lot of high-speed movement in between those games.

On Friday morning at around 6:20AM, the Phillies' team plane, a Delta 747 charter, was on its final approach, two and a half miles out from runway 27R at Philadelphia International Airport.  At the same time, an American Airlines flight was given clearance to takeoff from the same runway.  Their alert pilot noticed the approaching Phillies plane and relayed his concern to air traffic control. After a tense exchange, the controller told the Delta flight to abort the landing and perform a go-around.

Crisis was completely averted, but according to FAA guidelines, there should have been a three mile buffer between the two planes.  Usually, larger planes will land on runway 27R and takeoff from parallel runway 27L.  At the time, 27L was just finishing up construction and unavailable- even though the controller offered it as a last minute option to the Phils.

Needless to say, the magnitude of an incident would have had far-reaching consequences.

Thanks CBS anchor and CB reader Chris May (@chrismayphilly) for the heads up, and CBS 3 for the crack reporting.

Somehow, I feel like people will try to blame this on Ryan Howard.  

Must watch video after the jump.

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18 Responses

  1. Wow thank God they are all ok. I wonder what the World Series would be like if there was a plane crash and some didn’t survive? Weird shit to think about

  2. so wait, you’re telling me that the phillies had some sort of “incident” with planes that didn’t really occur? regardless of incident, that can be pretty weighing on your mental psyche (possible plane crashes, that is) that shit would weigh on me… maybe this is a lame excuse for watching the last pitch fly by on the last day of your season? i mean, i don’t know if i could go to work if there was some sort of issue with my flight in… games don’t seem all that important when your life is threatened… unless it’s the thunderdome, that is. then it matters quite much.

  3. It’s 7:37 PM on October 25, 2010 and Ryan Howard is still looking at strike 3.
    This deal with the Phillies plane was a close call. Much closer than the strike 3 that Ryan Howard looked at actually was.
    That’s all I got.
    Imagine if this landing ended poorly. Wow, that would be a huge tragedy. What do you even do there?

  4. The same thing happened with me on a flight to back to philly. The pilot pulled up as we were landing and banked to the right quickly. He then announced that while the tower had cleared him for landing, there was another plane entirely too close to ours. Phl airport needs to get their crap together. Ironically enough, it was the first game of our last series against the braves.

  5. The phillies probably never knew why they missed approach. Though Cholley dismissed the incident as “how you play the game”.

  6. It’s funny (not that the Phillies almost had this incident), but earlier this week at work, some of my coworkers were talking about air traffic controllers and how Philadelphia International Airport is one of the worst at things like this situation. Thank goodness no one got hurt and nothing happened to either plane.
    I just think it’s ironic that the same week we had that discussion, an incident like this happens.

  7. This is typical sensationalistic media at it’s best. I was on the south side of the airport watching them arrive. While everyone else (media and fans) were near by Atlantic Aviation at the north side of the airport waiting for the aircraft arrive and park. Several of my friends are controllers at Philly which is what I’m working at doing for a career. This was a very normal Go Around. Happens at Philly roughly 5-6 times a day. Happens at all the major airports plenty. The controller recognized the problem, quickly assessed his options and issued a corrective solution. Controllers across the country make these quick yet simple instructions. The American MD-80 crew was given an instruction. Did not follow it and instead of telling the Controller what he wanted to do with his aircraft. Can’t blame a controller for something that a pilot doesn’t do when he’s told.
    Ladies and Gentlemen, You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

  8. EJ- we didn’t place the blame solely on the controller, the pilot contributed too. we also said incident was completely averted. but listen to the voices in the video, i’ve heard plenty of go-arounds and they usually aren’t marked up with curses and that same sense of panic.
    would you agree that it was a rather tense few moments?

  9. EJ, the controller didn’t recognize the situation until the pilot of the American flight brought it to his attention. You say the American did not follow an instruction – which instruction wasn’t followed? The pilot was positioning the aircraft for departure (he just voiced his discomfort with the situation) and then when instructed to cross the runway he was complying with that instruction as well.
    Wonder what happened with the 3rd aircraft the controller was also planning on getting out ahead of the Phillies charter.
    Plain and simple, the controller made an error. Fortunately, the pilots of both aircraft and the controller resolved the error.
    (a retired controller)

  10. OOOOH, AHHHHH… Overblown hype.
    Pilot in the 747 could have aborted the landing at any time.
    Controller or Tower could have called an abort, too.
    p.s. If you want to know what it would have been like, consider the Marshall University Football team in 1970.

  11. This wasn’t as close of a call as everyone is making it out to be. A 2.5 Mile final means the plane will touch down in about 1 minute. That’s 60 seconds at about the 150MPH final approach speed. Imagine seeing a wall ahead of your car, but it is a whole minute away – you have PLENTY of time to turn or stop. Yes it was a foul up, but this is just sensationalism people. It sells newspapers and the media or the general public don’t know JACK about aviation. Go arounds or “Missed Approaches” happen all of the time because of traffic situation. The world and the winds are not perfect so these things are often difficult to calculate especially considering the volume of air traffic this day in age in a major metropolitan area. That lawyer is an ambulance chaser looking for his next commission.

  12. I’m pretty sure if Howard had been piloting the plane getting ready to take off, he would’ve just sat there and watched the Phillies plane go by.

  13. Kyle, I’m talking more about of the Philadelphia Media – 3, 6, 10. They do this BS with standard Go-Arounds all the time. You guys just picked up on it and are passing it along.
    Jim, It would have been a non issue if the American MD-80 went in position when the Local controller told him to. Instead I watched him sit there and dick around short of 27R. The Delta 747 would have been about 3.5 out for 27R by the time the American was in position. But because he decided to take his time getting in position that ate up all the time. The MD80 would have been airborne by the time the 747 was 1 mile out if they had taxied their aircraft in a expeditious manner. American MD80 crews are notorious to the controlling community for being very slow on most occasions while initiating instructions on the ground.

  14. Kyle, I forgot to add about the bottom of your post. Many friends of mine are controllers as that’s what Im working for as a career. No… to be totally honest it was not as tense as these media outlets make it seem. I heard no panic in those tapes. Like I’ve said I watched and heard it happen live in front of me and it didn’t get me worked up then either. You wanna hear panic? Watch and listen to this. As far as Air Traffic Control this is about as tense as it gets. I would suggest reading the video information to get an idea whats going on

  15. That 3 mile (distance) separation is a joke. It’s like driving 55 on the Interstates.
    The real blame should be in the industry that demands this level of capacity without putting one red cent into any kind of updated ATC system.
    The controller is just a poor cog in this ugly machine.
    As for the incident, it’s probably much less dramatic than it sounded because of the numbnuts who’s cursing (which sounds like neither the controller or the pilots–a supervisor or a third pilot sharing the frequency who doesn’t realize his mic is stuck?).
    And the pilot of the plane waiting on the ground is still responsible for making sure everything is clear before passing the hold-short line.
    And I’m sure to the 747 driver it was just a “routine” go-’round, and in no way near a Sully moment in terms of intensity level.

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