LAS VEGAS -- A veteran air traffic controller was stripped of tower duty at McCarran International Airport while authorities investigated how two commercial airliners nearly collided on a runway, officials said yesterday.
No one was hurt in the Sept. 22 incident, and more than 100 feet separated the planes in what a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration characterized as a minor runway incursion, but the airport director, Randall Walker, called a ''near-miss."
''They admitted there was a controller error," Walker said. ''You had a plane crossing and a plane cleared to take off on the same runway."
The FAA said it did not appear the pilots of America West Flight 539 to Cleveland and
The controller, whose name was not released, was faulted for allowing the Air Canada jet, which had just landed, to taxi across a runway where the America West jet was taking off. ''They were more than 100 feet apart, we don't know how much more," FAA spokesman Donn Walker said. ''The Air Canada jet had already finished crossing the runway when the America West jet flew over the runway at about 100 feet."
The controller was removed from duty after the incident and decertified, Donn Walker said.
He could be recertified as a controller if he undergoes remedial training, the spokesman said. The controller had more than 10 years of experience at McCarran, the nation's sixth-busiest airport.
The America West flight was an Airbus A320 capable of carrying 150 passengers. The Air Canada flight was an Airbus A319 with seating for 120 passengers.