Two planes have a near-miss over Houston, or: How to Read Headlines about Airlines

Singapore Airlines 777-300ER (from Wikipedia)

The American news media could more aptly be described nowadays as “newsertainment”.  Headlines follow that trend.

News about airlines is sometimes really fun to read.  For instance, American Airlines recently announced a redesign of Business Class on their 777-200s.  That’s good news (mostly).

Then there are headlines like this one today: Two Planes in Near Miss at Houston Airport

Basically what happened is a Singapore Airlines 777 and a Delta A320 were too close in the air (the FAA likes a certain horizontal and vertical distance between aircraft).  The term “near miss” would seem to indicate that there was a crash imminent, or pilots pulling back on the yoke all of a sudden because there was a plane in their windshield AIIIEEEEEEEEEE…but what actually happened (buried in the article, of course) was the flight controller gave both pilots instructions to get them back to an acceptable distance apart.  The airplanes were never closer than 800m apart.

Now, is this actually news?  Maybe.  But what really happened, and should’ve been reported, was that an alert FAA controller averted what could have turned into a bad situation.  The FAA is investigating, rightly, but it doesn’t appear that at any time were passengers or flight crew in danger.

Just a friendly reminder to take headlines with a grain of salt.  And thank your friendly neighborhood FAA flight controller.




  1. How this mom found 1 simple trick to keep airplanes from crashing in mid-air

    • Trainers hate her…

  2. Yah, but you understand 800m while moving at 400mph is seconds from disaster, right? Anytime you are that close, everyone is in danger.

    • Understand what you’re saying, but it’s not like they were 800m apart at the same altitude and heading directly towards each other. I don’t understand what the average every day consumer is supposed to do with this news ultimately. “Two planes almost collided? Well, better tell the pilots on my next flight not to collide with other planes.” It’s just another headline that feeds people’s fear of flying, I guess was the point I was trying to make.



  1. Please read headlines with a grain of salt: Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crashes in Ukraine near Russia | Andy's Travel Blog - […] crash, especially with the military actions in the area.  Like I mentioned in my post about the near-miss, headlines…

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