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Near Miss at LAX

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LAist hates to fly.

No matter how many times we hurl ourselves into the air in violation of Newtonian tenets of gravity (and their homespun corollary: "If the good Lord wanted us to fly, He'd have given us wings) and then land safely at the other end of our Parabola of Terror, we never get used to it.

But we place our faith in the hands of a string of professionals who make a living safely catapulting people from Point A to Point B: Boeing or Airbus engineers, airline mechanics, pilots, air traffic controllers, and the inventor of the iPod (boredom kills, people).

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It's a fragile chain of fallible humans, and potential disaster lurks at every turn. As the National Transportation Safety Board is now warning us, LAX played host to a near disaster in August, when air traffic controllers cleared a Asiana flight to land on the same runway on which a Southwest flight was in the process of taking off. The planes came within 12 seconds and 145 feet of a disastrous collision.

As troubling as that incident was, it's compounded by the fact that just that sort of error led to a fatal 1991 collision between two jets on an LAX runway. 33 people died.

Now, accidents happen. No matter how safe flying becomes, there will always be an element of danger. There is, however, no room for negligence. Before we begin to "modernize" the airport, the city should ensure that air traffic control procedures are revamped to prevent this sort of incident from occuring again.