A Cessna 172 pilot claims that if not for his last-minute evasive maneuver, his single-engine plane would have collided with a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 over Orlando Airport. But was this a near-disaster or just a publicity stunt?
Cessna Pilot Claims He Avoided Disaster In Near-Collision With Delta 757 Jet
In what could be an Air Traffic Control (ATC) error, the incident occurred last month over Orlando International Airport (MCO):
Tower: “Runway 36l, cleared for takeoff. Number 54 kilo, contact departure.”
Cessna Pilot: “Going to departure, 54 kilo.”
Moments later, however, he noticed that a Delta Air Lines 757 was taking off over the runway he had been instructed to fly over.
Tower: “N5254K, Orlando approach, Roger, and what heading did they give you.”
Cessna Pilot: “090 we saw it. We saw the guy coming so we just flew 150 now, but they gave us 090 up to 2000.”
Delta Pilot: “Tower, we got that traffic that just passed directly above us.”
Malik Clarke, the Cessna pilot, told ABC News:
“If I hadn’t done that evasive maneuver, it’s quite likely there would have been a midair collision.”
At one point, the plans were separated by a vertical distance of 500 feet and a horizontal distance of 1,500 feet. Clarke added:
“I knew that this didn’t look right, so immediately, I turned right and I climbed as steeply as I could because the Boeing 757 from Delta has a much higher climb rate than the aircraft that I was flying,”
The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating the incident. Delta has confirmed it is looking into the matter too, noting, “Nothing is more important than safety.”
Clarke recorded the incident, which he shared with ABC News:
Still, one has to wonder why this was so nicely videoed if there was an emergency…was this a publicity stunt? VFR (visual flight rules) traffic in the vicinity of or over an airport like Orlando is not necessarily a dangerous or unusual situation. Furthermore, collision avoidance systems all but guarantee a mid-air disaster is avoided. Still, it seems odd that a Cessna 172 was vectored over a commercial airport runway in VFR.
A Cessna 172 pilot has shared a harrowing video that suggests a near-miss with an oncoming Delta 757 jet. I’m not convinced there was really ever all that much danger. However, even if both pilots saw each other and took immediate steps to avoid disaster, it appears that the two should never have been in such close proximity in the first place.