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FAA investigating close call involving fighter jet at Austin airport

An FAA spokesperson said the pilot of a private Cessna Citation jet had to take “evasive action” when an F-18 fighter jet flew too close.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it is investigating a close call involving a fighter jet at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that happened on Sept. 23.

The FAA confirmed to KVUE that the pilot of a Cessna Citation private jet had to take “evasive action” when an F-18 fighter jet flew too close and triggered an “onboard alert.”

A short time later, the F-18 flew near a different runway as a small plane, a Piper PA-28, was preparing for takeoff. The FAA is investigating how close the fighter jet came to the other aircraft.

The FAA hasn’t said which military agency the fighter jet belonged to.

KVUE obtained air traffic control audio from the moment the incident involving the private jet and fighter jet happened, where a pilot could be heard saying it was a “misunderstanding.”

This is the third close call at Austin’s airport over the past year. That includes a close call involving an Allegiant flight in June and another involving a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines plane in February.

Here’s the full statement from officials at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport:

“Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is aware of the Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation into a September 23 incident involving a general aviation aircraft and military aircraft. AUS administration will support the investigation as needed.”

In June, the FAA said Allegiant Flight 1500 from Cincinnati was preparing to land in Austin “when the crew initiated a climb due to a small aircraft in proximity.” The closest proximity was 1.6 miles and 200 feet, the FAA said.

In February, a FedEx cargo plane attempting to land at the Austin airport had to reverse course after a Southwest Airlines plane was cleared to depart from the same runway.

An NTSB report into that incident was released in March and said the captain of the FedEx plane “noted that at an altitude of about 150 feet, the FO called go-around after visually seeing [the Southwest Airlines flight] at approximately 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet from the approach end of the runway.” The report did not state the closest proximity of the planes at the time of the “overflight” occurrence.

Earlier this year, the FAA appointed a safety review panel in response to several close calls between airplanes, some of which appeared to be caused by FAA air traffic controllers.

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