Did a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines jet almost collide in a viral video?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Video Shows FedEx + Southwest Jets Almost Colliding!
People are sharing a video clip that claims to show a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines jet almost colliding!
This is video from the FedEx – Southwest runway incident from last week.
If this doesn’t make you tense up and cringe nothing will. The people on that SouthWest flight have no clue how close to death they came.
Real incident at Austin Feb 4, 2023.
Fedex 😱 Southwest Airlines. Near Miss!
Truth : FedEx + Southwest Jet Near Collision Video Is From Game!
This is yet another example of MISINFORMATION circulating on WhatsApp, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Fact #1 : FedEx + Southwest Jets Did Almost Collide
First, let me confirm that a FedEx cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines jet did almost collide on Saturday, February 4, 2023.
In that incident, air traffic controllers at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport cleared an arriving FedEx Boeing 767 cargo plane to lane, while simultaneously clearing a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 to take off using the same runway!
Air traffic controllers first cleared the Southwest Airlines jet to take-off from runway 18 Left, when the FedEx jet was 3.2 nautical miles (6 km) away.
When the FedEx jet was 2.19 nautical miles (4 km) from the airport, controllers told the FedEx crew to land on the same 18 Left runway.
The FedEx crew later realised that they were about to overfly the Southwest plane, and quickly aborted their landing while telling the Southwest crew to abort their takeoff.
According to Jennifer Homendy, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the two planes almost collided, with a separation of “less than 100 feet (30 metres)”.
I’m very proud of the FedEx flight crew and that pilot. They saved, in my view, 128 people from a potential catastrophe. It was very close, and we believe less than 100 feet.
The near catastrophe apparently happened because the Austin airport is not equipped with Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE). Air traffic controller could see the FedEx jet on radar, but could not see the Southwest Airlines jet taxiing on the ground.
The ASDE system was important in preventing a runway collision in January 2023, between taxiing and departing aircraft at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.
BREAKING: FedEx cargo plane narrowly misses crashing into Southwest Airlines plane taxiing on runway at Austin International Airport, Texas pic.twitter.com/2KF0ifokRF
— Intel Point Alert (@IntelPointAlert) February 5, 2023
Fact #2 : That Video Was From A Video Game
On his YouTube channel, Monster21 explicitly pointed out that the video was created on Microsoft Flight Simulator, with the title, “Real incident at Austin on Microsoft Flight Simulator“.
On TikTok though, he posted it with a shorter title of “Real incident at Austin Feb 4th 2023“, but did include a #microsoftflightsimulator2020 hashtag.
Unfortunately, it is being shared as if the video is genuine, just like these other videos created by computer games:
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Fact #3 : Video Does Not Accurately Simulate The Event
While the video creator was simulating the close call between the FedEx and Southwest jets based on flight data, it isn’t an accurate depiction.
The video showed that it was a bright and clear day. That’s not accurate because the incident happened at around 6:50 AM. Dawn only broke at 6:55 AM in Austin, Texas on February 4, 2023.
There was also fog at the airport that day. So it would have been rather dark and foggy at the same time, with poor visibility.
That would explain why the FedEx crew did not spot the spot the Southwest jet lining up on the runway much earlier.
Fact #4 : Audio Was Genuine, But Edited
While the video is not real and is just a simulation, the audio recording is genuine albeit edited.
The air traffic control audio recording was made available through Live ATC of Austin-Bergstrom Airport’s traffic control, and began at around 6:47 AM.
The full audio recording lasts just over 6 minutes, but was edited to just over 2 minutes by Haemaker to remove dead spots. As he noted – “It did NOT happen this fast“.
The video used the shorter, edited Haemaker audio recording, so it sounds more dramatic than what really happened in real life. Here is how USA Today explains the audio recording:
The FedEx pilot asks the tower if the plane is confirmed to land, to which the controller responds yes and lets the pilot know about the Southwest flight taking off.
About 30 seconds later, the controller asks the Southwest flight to confirm if it is “on the roll.” To which the pilot immediately responds, “Rolling now.”
After about 20 seconds of silence, the tower says, “Southwest abort. FedEx is on the go.”
There’s no response, and nearly nine seconds later, the tower tells the Southwest flight to turn right when able. Southwest immediately responds by saying, “Negative.”
The tower comes back about 17 seconds later and tells the FedEx pilot to climb and maintain 3,000 feet and turn left, which the pilot confirms upon receiving the instruction.
Near the end of the recording, after the FedEx plane has landed and said it cleared the runway, the tower apologizes to the pilot and thanks them for their professionalism.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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