Two aircraft narrowly avoided a collision over the weekend, FAA says days after safety summit

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Two aircraft had a close call over the weekend at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday, days after holding a summit to address rising safety concerns.

A Southwest flight was approaching a runway at the airport at 9:52 a.m. Saturday when an air traffic controller noticed a helicopter was on that same runway, according to a statement from the FAA. The helicopter, a Bell 505, had been practicing touch-and-go landings.

The controller instructed the Southwest flight, a Boeing 737, to discontinue its approach and go around. The incident is now being investigated by the FAA.

Last week, the FAA held an impromptu safety summit to address whether changes should be made to American flight regulations. Another close call occurred earlier this month, in which Republic Airways Flight 4736 crossed a runway, putting it on a path to collide with a United Airlines flight that had been cleared for takeoff.

The March 7 incident, which happened at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, is also under investigation.

These are the latest in a number of high-profile close calls that have occurred around the country.

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen told "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt that it is safe to fly but that officials have begun “to see things that we don’t expect to see.”

“We expect every flight to operate as it should,” Nolen said. “And so we’ve had these events over the past few weeks. That gives us a moment to say, 'Let’s stop. Let’s reflect. Let’s ask ourselves the question: Are we missing anything?'”

Nolen told Holt that there has been a swift rebound in airline travel following restrictions easing in the wake of the Covid pandemic. He called it a "pent-up demand for flying" that has put pressure on the system.

"Flying has come back with a vengeance, so to speak," he said.

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