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FAA investigates runway near-miss involving two planes at California airport

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Posted at 7:07 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 19:07:20-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating what could have been a disastrous runway incident at San Diego International Airport Thursday night after air traffic controllers diverted a plane from landing while a second plane was departing.

According to a statement from the FAA, the crew of SkyWest Flight 3446 was ordered to discontinue their approach to Runway 27 because another aircraft was on the runway preparing for departure.

The FAA did not give details about the speed, altitude, or distance between the two aircraft at the time the SkyWest plane was diverted. A source tells ABC News the SkyWest flight was operating as an Alaska Airlines flight.

According to flight-tracking data listed on the airport’s site, SkyWest 3446 was arriving from Portland into San Diego and approaching the airport at an altitude of about 200 feet before climbing to 2,100 feet. It then circled over Pacific Beach before returning to the airport.

See the flight-tracking data below:

“The other aircraft, Delta Air Lines Flight 2249, departed safely and the SkyWest aircraft landed later. The FAA is investigating,” said the FAA.

A Delta Air Lines spokesperson told ABC 10News that "our flight crew followed the direction of Air Traffic Controllers at SAN for a safe departure," but deferred comment on the incident to the FAA.

Delta Flight 2249 is an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, capable of seating 234 passengers. SkyWest Flight 3446 is an Embraer 175, able to seat 76 passengers.

According to ABC News, the Delta flight was preparing for takeoff but had a mechanical issue. The flight was cleared to the runway but sat for about three and a half minutes while the SkyWest plane was making its approach. ABC News reports that after the SkyWest flight went around, the Delta flight asked to leave the runway for its mechanical issue.

Weather data reviewed by ABC 10News reported mostly cloudy conditions with perfect visibility at around the time of the incident.

San Diego International Airport, formerly known as Lindbergh Field, claims to be the busiest single-runway airport in the world, trafficking nearly 500 daily flights, according to the airport. The airport was ranked as the best in the country by Forbes Magazine in 2019 for its amenities, proximity to downtown, and minimal delays.

This story originally reported by Mario Sevilla and Mark Saunders on 10News.com.