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United Airlines Near Mid-Air At SFO

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency has launched an investigation into a near mid-air collision between a United Airlines B-777 bound for Beijing, China, and a light airplane.

The NTSB says the two planes came within an estimated 300 feet of colliding over San Francisco. At about 11:15 a.m. PDT on 27 March 2010, the crew of United Airlines Flight 889, a B777-222 (N216UA) carrying 251 passengers and a crew of 17, was cleared to takeoff from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on runway 28L and climb to an initial altitude of 3,000 feet.

UPDATED - click read more below.

The flying pilot was the first officer, who reported that after the landing gear was retracted and the jet was at an altitude of about 1,100 feet, the tower controller called traffic at his 1 o'clock position. Immediately following the controller's advisory, the airplane's traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) issued an audible alert of "TRAFFIC TRAFFIC."

According to the NTSB, the pilots saw a light high wing airplane, an Aeronca 11AC (N9270E), in a hard left turn traveling from their 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock position. The first officer pushed the control column forward to level the airplane. Both crew members reported seeing only the underside of the Aeronca as it passed to within an estimated 200-300 feet of the 777. TCAS then issued an "ADJUST VERTICAL SPEED" alert, followed by a "DESCEND, DESCEND" alert.

The first officer complied and the flight continued to Beijing without further incident.

UPDATE: The original media advisory indicated that the light high wing airplane was an Aeronca 11AC with the registration number of N9270E. Subsequent information received by the NTSB clarified that the aircraft involved was a Cessna 182 with a registration number of N9870E.

The source for this news item is the NTSB.

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