Two international flights, one an American Airlines Boeing 777 and the other a Delta Air Lines 737 came within a thousand feet of colliding as both were taxiing for take off from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday night. The Delta flight, headed for Santo Domingo was cleared to take off and had begun accelerating when American flight 106 to London crossed in front of it. On the control tape, one can hear a partial expletive from the air traffic controller as he realized the conflict. Following swiftly with “Delta 1943 cancel take off plans.” The plane braked sharply as the 777 crossed the runway ahead of the 737.
#Thread Complete video of animation, showing audio without arrows pic.twitter.com/vQSBlzsTsz
— Air Safety #OTD by Francisco Cunha (@OnDisasters) January 16, 2023
The Delta pilot can be heard on the air traffic control tape “rejecting” the take off.
Delta passenger Brian Healy told NBC News at first he did not think the event was going to end well followed by an audible sound of relief among the 145 passengers. The 737 returned to the gate and did not depart until the following day.
American pilots were given the number to report a deviation and after a delay of about 20 minutes, flight 106 departed for London. This means it is possible the cockpit voice recorder capture of the conversation on the flight deck was taped over, as the flight to London is longer than the 2-hour record time of the CVR.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board both say they will conduct a probe into what happened and why the American flight was crossing in front of the 737.
American pilots have been in a tussle with the airline over a new operating manual designed to eliminate procedural differences among crews of the airline’s various aircraft. The most recent communication to pilots was a 30-page document distributed on January 3, outlining new ways of handling various tasks including those to be performed prior to take off.
These may seem minor on the surface but can cause confusion during the high workload period as pilots prepare for flight, one American pilot told me. “When you’re going to taxi for take off, this is not the time for elements of confusion,” this person said.
Ted Reed, in an article for Forbes earlier this month, wrote that some pilots who were taking extra time preflight to go over the operating manual felt pressured by management to hasten the process.
This dispute is likely to be part of the investigation into how two airplanes wound up so close to colliding Friday evening.
Author of The New York Times bestseller, The Crash Detectives, I am also a journalist, public speaker and broadcaster specializing in aviation and travel.
Couple things here: It is not a “control tape”. I guess it could be a tape of ATC tower controller/pilot comms. The phone number given to the AA crew was not for THEM to report a deviation. The controller is required to tell the pilots that they may have committed a piloting deviation, and that they are to call the number given to them by the controller. When the pilot(s) call the controller, they will (maybe) discuss how this came to happen. The controller has the option of requesting the CVR of the plane, which would require a serious delay to the pax, and there’s pressure on them not to delay too much. The Pilot Bill of Rights covers this, and he may have let them off with a warning, and to discuss with AA operations.
Ted Reed has a new article today that you might find interesting. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedreed/2023/01/19/first-officer-on-american-jfk-runway-incursion-flight-had-added-task-at-departure-source-says/