Aviation: The Crowded Sky

The statistic in a confidential report prepared for the Federal Aviation Agency was enough to shake even the most seasoned air traveler: during the average 24 hours, eight near misses occur between planes in flight over the U.S. A near miss means that two planes came so close that they would have collided if one pilot or the other had not detected the danger and taken action to escape it.

For that matter, actual mid-air collisions occur much oftener than most people realize. Federal agencies have recorded seven so far this year in U.S. airspace, and a total of 438...

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