Life / Travel

Planes clip wings in ground collision at Phoenix airport

PHOENIX — Two passenger jets clipped their wingtips in a minor ground collision close to a Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport terminal. Nobody was injured in the Thursday evening incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it is investigating the collision, but National Transportation Safety Agency spokesman Terry Williams said that agency isn't investigating because damage was "very, very limited."

A departing Frontier Airlines flight bound for Denver was pushing back from its Terminal 3 gate when it collided with a taxiing Southwest Airlines flight arriving from Oklahoma City, the Phoenix Fire Department said.

Photos showed tear-type damage to the tip of a wing of the Southwest jet. The Southwest plane had a very minor leak in a wing fuel tank, Fire Department spokesman Rob McDade said.

Southwest spokeswoman Emily Samuels said the airline's plane didn't have a fuel leak, and Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner said the Frontier plane didn't have a fuel leak.

Frontier said its plane had 163 passengers and six crew members. Sanders said the Southwest plane had 164 passengers and six crew.

Frontier's Faulkner said he could not discuss how the collision occurred. A statement issued earlier by Frontier said its plane, an Airbus 320, "was cleared to push back from the gate..."

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Friday no information was available on how the collision occurred.

Southwest passenger Megan Wohr said it was taxiing to Terminal 4 when she felt something from a speed pump before the Southwest plane quickly stopped. The Frontier plane was still attached to a tug, she said.

The Southwest plane was "cruising along pretty fast still" but that she couldn't tell whether its wing extended over a double yellow line between the planes, Wohr said.

A stair truck was used to evacuate both planes, McDade said. But Wohr said the Southwest plane, after a wait of 90 minutes, taxied to Terminal 4 where the passengers got off at a regular gate. Samuels said she couldn't immediately say how and where the Southwest passengers got off the plane.

Both airlines said their planes were out of service for repairs.

Frontier's Faulkner said the airline flew in another plane from its Denver base and that passengers from the plane involved in the collision arrived in the Colorado City about six hours later than originally scheduled.

Southwest's statement said Denver-bound passengers on its plane "were accommodated on another aircraft, and arrived approximately an hour late."

Airport spokesman Gregory Roybal said Friday he could not discuss the incident because it was being investigated by the FAA.

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