The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that it will begin an investigation into a near-collision of two commercial airliners that occurred this past Friday, the 13th.
The close-call incident played out on the tarmac at New York‘s John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport at around 8:45 p.m. local time. when an American Airlines plane unexpectedly taxied in front of a Delta Air Lines aircraft that was about to commence its takeoff run.
Delta Air Lines Flight 1943, a Boeing 737, bound for Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo, found itself slamming on the brakes when air traffic controllers noticed its path was about to converge with that of an American Airlines plane “crossing the runway in front of the departing jetliner,” according to FAA’s statement.
“According to a preliminary analysis, Delta Air Lines Flight 1943 stopped its takeoff roll approximately 1,000 feet before reaching the point where American Airlines Flight 106, a Boeing 777, had crossed from an adjacent taxiway,” the FAA said.
Fortunately, disaster was averted and no one was injured in the almost-accident.
NPR found some recorded audio of air traffic control’s conversations with both planes posted on Twitter. One air traffic control agent can be heard clearing the Delta flight for takeoff, after which another says, “American 106 heavy hold position, American 106 heavy hold position.”
Then, in a panicked tone, an air traffic controller issues another urgent command: “Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance!” After which, someone replies, “Rejecting.”
JFK Airport New York – Friday the 13th, 2023. American Airlines Boeing 777 (AAL106) going to London crosses the wrong runway while taxiing while a Delta Airlines Boeing 737 (DAL1943) is departing for Santo Domingo on the same runway stopping their takeoff avoiding a disaster. pic.twitter.com/vhzXI8zD7M
— Thenewarea51 (@thenewarea51) January 15, 2023
Another portion of the audio clip is evidently an exchange between an air traffic control person and one of American 106’s pilots. “I guess we’ll listen to the tapes, but you were supposed to depart runway 4 left,” the air traffic controller states. “You’re currently holding short of [runway] 3-1 left.”
Afterward, American Airlines Flight 106, bound for London Heathrow, departed on time, while the Delta flight returned to its gate and was then unable to depart due to staffing issues, the airline said. Its 145 passengers deplaned and were provided with overnight hotel accommodations, and the flight departed the next morning instead.
“The safety of our customers and crew is always Delta’s number one priority,” Delta said in a statement issued to CNN, adding that it is ready to cooperate with any analysis of the incident the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may wish to initiate.
“Delta will work with and assist the NTSB on a full review of flight 1943 on Jan. 13 regarding an aborted takeoff procedure at New York-JFK,” the carrier’s spokesperson said in a statement. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and delay of their travels.”
American Airlines offered no comment on the incident, instead referring all questions to the FAA.
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