FRESNO, Calif. – The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a close call at Fresno Yosemite International Airport in which a Skywest airlines jet narrowly avoided colliding with a private aircraft on a runway Thursday night.

The wingtips of the two aircraft were within 15 feet at one point, according to the Skywest pilot.

The incident occurred about 9 p.m. Thursday just after a Piper Malibu touched down at FYI, Ian Gregor of the FAA said.

The pilot of the piper received instructions from the tower to turn off the runway onto a taxiway, Gregor said, but the pilot was unable to make the turn and was then told to proceed to the next taxiway for the turn. Then a controller in the tower visually checked the runway and believed it to be clear.

The pilot of the Skywest jet was then told to land on the runway, but the Piper pilot had not yet cleared it, Gregor said, because he was having trouble finding the turnoff.

The piper pilot was on the far left side of the runway when the Skywest jet touched down. The Skywest pilot veered to the right and avoided the smaller craft.

Gregor said the FAA’s internal investigation will probably be accompanied by another probe by the National Transportation Safety Board.

(c) 2008, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-08-30-08 1733EDT

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