NEW YORK (AP) — Officials are looking into a close call at a New York airport Friday night between a plane crossing the runway and another preparing to take off.
″(Expletive)! Cancel takeoff clearance, Delta 1943! Delta 1943, please cancel your takeoff clearance!” When he noticed the other plane, operated by American Airlines, crossing in front of him, an air controller said in an audio recording of Air Traffic Control communications. LiveATC, a website that monitors and posts flight communications, made the recording.
The departing Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 then came to a safe stop on the John F. Kennedy International Airport runway as the other crossed in front around 8:45 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Passenger Brian Heale on the Delta flight initially thought the abrupt stop was due to a mechanical issue.
“There was this sudden jerk of the plane, and everyone was thrust forward from the waist,” he remembered. “When the brakes were applied, there was an audible reaction, almost like a gasp. Then there was complete silence for a few seconds.”
Heale, who was on his way to the Dominican Republic with his husband for a winter vacation, said it wasn’t until the next day that he realised the gravity of what could have happened on that runway.
“The pilot made the decision to only share information on a need-to-know basis, and that was absolutely the right decision,” he said.
According to John Cox, a retired pilot and professor of aviation safety at the University of Southern California, the controller “made a good decision to reject the takeoff.”
He stated that the rejected takeoff safety manoeuvre, in which pilots stop the aircraft and cancel the takeoff, is one that they are “very, very familiar with.”
According to the FAA, the Delta plane came to a stop about 1,000 feet (0.3 kilometres) from where the American Airlines plane had crossed from an adjacent taxiway.
According to a Delta spokesperson, the plane returned to the gate, where the 145 passengers deplaned and were given overnight accommodations. Saturday morning, the flight to Santa Domingo Airport in the Dominican Republic took off.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Saturday that it will conduct an investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board also stated that it was investigating the incident.
“They’ll go back and listen to every transmission between the American jet and air traffic control to see who got it wrong,” Cox said.
“Delta will collaborate with and assist aviation authorities on a full review of flight 1943 on January 13 regarding a successful aborted takeoff procedure at New York-JFK. “We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience and delay in their travels,” said a Delta spokesperson in a statement.
American Airlines declined to comment on the incident, instead directing all inquiries to the FAA.