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2 planes aborted landings in San Francisco when a Southwest jet taxied across their runways

SAN FRANCISCO — Two airliners aborted landings at San Francisco International Airport last week after pilots spotted a Southwest Airlines jet taxiing across runways on which the other planes had been cleared to land.

An air traffic controller told the Southwest pilots they should not have been on the runways during the May 19 incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that the Southwest plane cleared the runways when the other planes passed directly overhead, and the decision to abort the landings was “precautionary.”

“The FAA looked into the events and determined the appropriate steps were taken to ensure safe operations,” the agency said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it is not investigating the matter.

The incident comes after a half-dozen close calls in recent months that are being investigated by safety officials. Those include one in February in which a FedEx plane flew about 100 feet (30 meters) over the top of a Southwest jet in Austin, Texas, after an air traffic controller cleared both planes to use the same runway.

In the incident this month, an inbound United Airlines plane flew as low as a few hundred feet (100 meters) over San Francisco Bay before pilots saw the Southwest jet on the same runway and decided to abandon their landing.

Shortly after that, the crew of an incoming Alaska Airlines plane saw the same Southwest jet crossing a second, parallel runway, and the pilots aborted their landing too.

Both the United and Alaska planes circled around and landed safely.

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