Seconds later, the Southwest pilot called the control tower. “I want you to acknowledge you cleared us on a runway while a plane was taking off,” he said. “We had to hit the brakes and the thing went right over our head.”
Though most passengers may not be aware of the hazards on the ground, such near misses are not isolated events. Since 2008, there have been about three incidents a day in which a plane or a vehicle gets on an active runway by mistake, an average of 1,000 a year. That number has held steady for the last four years while the total number of flights has declined.