A terrifying close call happened in the skies above Syracuse, New York when two airplanes nearly collided in mid-air on Monday afternoon.

The two planes involved were carrying a combined total of 159 people. Eighty people were on Delta Air Lines flight 5421, operated by Endeavor Air, while 79 people were on board American Airlines flight 5511, operated by American Eagle.

The incident is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the near miss appears to have been caused by an air traffic control error. Communications between air traffic control and the pilots of the planes show that the American Airlines flight was cleared to land on runway 28 at the same time that the Delta flight was cleared to take off from that same runway.

The error appears to have been caught first by the American Airlines pilot, who asked: “Wait, who’s cleared to take off on 28?”

Air traffic control then ordered the American flight to “take to the sky” and “go around” to avoid the Delta flight taking off.


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While the two planes thankfully did not collide, they did fly extremely close to each other, as is seen in a nail-biting dash camera video recorded by police from the North Syracuse Police Department.

The video shows one plane descending as the other climbs, appearing to be on a collision course, though the aircraft end up passing each other. A North Syracuse police officer who noticed the planes, points up at the sky in an apparent panic.

CBS News reports that, at their closest, the planes were just 725 feet, or 220 metres, apart from each other, with the American Airlines plane flying right over the top of the Delta aircraft.

The American flight then veered to the side so it was no longer in the same path as the Delta plane. This may have been the moment captured by the Syracuse police dash cam. From a distance, it appeared like the planes would crash into each other.

The FAA is investigating the events that led up to this near-fatal error at Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

Delta Airlines states that it is working with “aviation authorities as we always do in our shared commitment to safety above all else.”