Spirit Flight 403 fender bender: Airline says pilot wasn't warned of plane he hit at Florida airport

WASHINGTON -- Spirit Airlines says a pilot who clipped the tail of another aircraft on New Year's Eve was not warned about the presence of the other plane.

The accident happened after Spirit Flight 403 arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida with 167 passengers onboard.

The wingtip of the Airbus A320 hit the tail of a US Airways plane, also an A320, parked in a remote stand away from the gate; no one was onboard that plane.

"Spirit was not advised by air traffic control of the presence of the other aircraft," the company said in a press release issued Wednesday night said. "Spirit has been informed by officials that the control tower had also not been advised that the other A320 was parked in such close proximity to an active taxiway."

"We are continuing to investigate," US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie told CNN Wednesday. The day before, he said the "A320 was parked in an approved parking spot when it was struck in the tail by another aircraft."

The accident happened in an area which is not under air traffic control, a FAA official who did not want to be identified discussing the details of the accident told CNN.

Controllers generally guide planes on runways and active taxiways, but it would be unusual for them to discuss aircraft that are in parking areas with pilots who are taxiing past them.

Radio calls captured by the website LiveATC.net show the Spirit pilot warned ground control about limited space to maneuver.

"You might want to send guys around the other way, it's really tight here in Cactus Park," he said using "Cactus" the US Airways radio call sign.

No one was injured in the collision and the passengers onboard the Spirit flight deplaned at the gate.

The airline says because of the minor nature of the damage the National Transportation Safety Board will not be investigating.

In September, the NTSB recommended the FAA require large planes and other aircraft on which the wingtips are not easily visible from the cockpit to have cameras or other devices to monitor the wings.

The safety board said at the time that 12 accidents since 1993 had involved a large aircraft's wingtip hitting another airplane or object on the taxiway.

Most recently, a Boeing 747 hit a regional jet at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago in May, a 767 hit a regional jet in Boston in July 2011 and an A380 hit a regional jet in April of 2011 at New York's JFK Airport.

No one was injured in any of those incidents.

 


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