MIAMI – Two planes that clipped each other in the gate area of Miami International Airport are grounded until an investigation is complete.
The wing of an Aerolineas Argentinas A340 clipped the back of an Air France jet on Thursday afternoon. People were forced to evacuate both planes. No injuries were reported.
Once planes are off the taxiway, they are directed by separate ground controllers, who send them to their gate. With MIA seeing record passenger traffic, things can be very hectic.
"When you are pulling up to a gate you have people, wing walkers, helping you and generally at a certain point you are trusting them to look out for you," said Seth Kaplan with Airline Weekly.
In 2012, passenger traffic increased three percent with 39.5 million passengers flying into and out of the airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports planes colliding while on the ground is one of the top ten issues in aviation. Part of the problem could be bigger planes.
"Certainly, aircraft over the years have gotten larger and airports in many cases are not able to keep up because this is infrastructure that in some cases has existed for many decades," said Kaplan. "They try to adapt but the airplanes come off the assembly lines more quickly than the airports can adapt."
Both planes involved in Thursday's incident were wide-body jets. The Airbus A340-300 is 209 feet long, 55 feet tall and has a 197-foot wide wingspan.
"There are a lot of big advantages to big airplanes and this is one of the disadvantages and there is going to be some give and take to get to that point where these things don't happen," added Kaplan.
NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last year that: "While collision warning systems are now common in highway vehicles, it is important for the aviation industry to consider their application in large aircraft."
Experts say the industry can focus on these incidents because bigger safety problems of the past have improved.
"It has now been over a decade since a main line U.S. airline, a non-commuter U.S. airline, has had a major fatal crash. That is great news. Now we are able to talk about these things as the big issue but it is an issue," said Kaplan.
On New Year's Eve, a Spirit jet clipped another plane at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. That incident remains under investigation.