Southwest Airlines 737 forced to go-around in BUR after yet another US near-miss

a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 narrowly avoided a helicopter while landing at Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR)
Markus Mainka /

The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, registered as N551WN, was operating flight WN2023 from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) to BUR. It began to turn right in order to line up with runway 08, at 09:46 AM local time (UTC -7). It began further descending toward its designated runway at 09:49 AM local time (UTC -7) and had just reached the beginning of the runway three minutes later, according to data. 

Meanwhile, per, a Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, registered as N307FD and belonging to the United States Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), was practicing touch-and-go landings on the same runway. Data from the flight-tracking website shows that the helicopter landed on runway 08 at 9:51 AM local time (UTC -7) and began another test flight shortly afterward at 9:53 AM local time (UTC -7). 

As the Bell 505 was departing from runway 08 at BUR, with its altitude at 625 feet (190 m), the Southwest Airlines flight was at its lowest altitude at 775 ft (236.2 m) at 9:52 AM local time (UTC -7). The Boeing 737-700 immediately began to climb, peaking at a vertical speed of 2,048 feet per minute (FPM) around 40 seconds after it descended to its lowest point during the first approach.  

According to NBC News, an air traffic controller instructed the Southwest Airlines crew to abort its landing and initiate a go-around in order to avoid traffic. The incident is being looked at by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the NBC News report added.  

The Boeing 737 landed at BUR at 10:04 AM local time (UTC -7) without further incident, while the LAFD helicopter continued practicing landings at BUR before finally landing at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) at 10:16 AM local time (UTC -7). 

The near-miss at BUR can be added to a growing list currently being investigated by the US authorities.  

During a recent Safety Summit organized by the FAA on March 15, 2023, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Jennifer Homendy stated that the board is looking at six runway incursions and two wrong-runway landings, as well as two safety events in Hawaii. 

The NTSB recently published a report about a near-miss at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), where an American Airlines Boeing 737 and Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321 were separated by 0.6 miles (965 meters) horizontally at their closest point. 

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