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Close call avoided between two planes at a Texas airport

By Dennis Romero

An air traffic controller on Saturday may have double-booked a runway at a Texas airport, sending two jetliners on a course for a potential collision, which was averted, officials said.

The close call happened about 6:40 a.m. at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, where a Boeing 737 operated by Southwest Airlines was cleared to depart shortly before a FedEx 767 cargo plane was expected to make its approved landing, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The FedEx plane abandoned its landing on Runway 18-Left, the FAA said. "The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out," it said. "The Southwest flight departed safely."

In a statement, the package shipper said the FedEx Express flight from Memphis to Austin "safely landed after encountering an event just before landing."

Southwest declined to comment. The air traffic controllers' union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Jan. 16 at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, a Delta Air Lines plane about to take off was frantically ordered to haltwhen controllers noticed an American Airlines aircraft crossing its path, the FAA said at the time.

The Delta 737 was able to stop safely in time after a controller was heard on radio traffic archived by the website LiveATC saying, "Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance!"

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating Saturday's incident.

This article originally appeared on NBC News

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