The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has opened an investigation after two planes nearly collided on Friday night (13/01) at John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York.
The accident occurred when a Delta Airlines flight bound for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was about to take off when another American Airlines plane crossed the runway.
JFK’s air traffic controller issued an urgent order to the Delta pilots, who managed to stop the takeoff in time.
“M****! Delta Airlines 1943, revoke your takeoff clearance!” An observer shouted at the conversation between the tower and the plane, which was being recorded.
A passenger on the Delta flight said some people freaked out when the plane stopped.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will determine what happened and whether anyone will be disciplined.
What is known about what happened?
The incident occurred last Friday, January 13, shortly after 20:00 (22:00 GMT).
Delta Flight 1943 (DL1943) was on Runway 4L awaiting takeoff clearance for Santo Domingo.
At the same time, American flight (AA106) bound for London was en route to the designated runway.
According to audio compiled by ATC Live, a website that monitors aviation radio frequencies, Flight DL1943 has received clearance to take off from Runway 4L.
But upon initiating the takeoff run, Flight AA106 crossed the same runway while taxiing.
“M****! Delta 1943, revoke your take off permit!” says the observer. He says again: “Delta 1943, they revoked the take-off permit.”
The pilot replies that he will abort the takeoff and sighs.
Some aviation experts have been able to reconstruct the aircraft’s positions through flight-tracking websites.
The FAA reported that based on a “preliminary analysis”, Flight DL1943 “broke its take off approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) from the point” where AA106 was crossing from an adjacent runway.
Scare on the plane
“After the aircraft came to a safe stop on the runway, it returned to the departure gate where the customers disembarked,” Delta said.
The flight was rescheduled for the next day. Flight AA106 took off shortly thereafter for London.
Donal Brian Healy, a passenger on the Delta Air Lines flight, said the incident raised concerns for some on the plane.
“There were reactions and screams as the plane started to slow down, and then complete silence,” Healy told Business Insider. “I felt the adrenaline rush because all of this wasn’t normal and I didn’t know what to expect.”
“When the plane stopped, I realized we were fine. I thought it was some mechanical failure.”
The pilot told the authorities that he had aborted the takeoff because another plane was passing in front of him.
In the audio recordings, the controller tells the pilots of flight AA106 that they have committed a “probable deviation” from the commands they received.
One of the pilots replied, “The last clearance they gave us (were) allowed to cross (the runway), weren’t they?”
The controller replied that takeoff was taking place on runway 4L. Instead, AA106 was on its way to runway 31L.
“We’ll listen to the recordings, but you were supposed to take off from runway 4L. And now you’re on runway 31L,” says the controller.
One of the deadliest disasters in aviation history was the collision between planes on a runway in Tenerife, Spain, in March 1977. In that accident, 583 people were killed and dozens injured.
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