Another near miss at JFK as plane nearly collides with four others cleared for same runway in comms error

An almost identical near-collision happened at the same airport earlier this year

Katie Hawkinson
Tuesday 23 April 2024 23:09 BST
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Swiss Air jet nearly collides with four other planes on JFK runway

A quick-thinking pilot prevented a near-collision between four aeroplanes, including his own, at one of the world’s busiest airports.

Audio of the incident at JFK International Airport reveals air traffic control cleared a Swiss Air flight for takeoff. The pilot, realising he would collide with several other planes, then quickly aborted. The near-miss on 17 April is now being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Audio of the incident was captured by LiveATC, a public archive of air traffic control audio.

“Swiss 17K heavy rejecting takeoff,” the Swiss Air pilot told air traffic control, realising collision was imminent. “Traffic on the runway.”

“Exit out,” an air traffic controller urged the pilot.

The FAA later confirmed the flight aborted its takeoff because four aircraft were crossing the same takeoff runway at the New York City airport. The federal regulator did not provide details on the other airlines involved when contacted by The Independent.

A Swiss Air aircraft pictured in London on 11 April. A pilot for Swiss Airways recently averted a four-plane collision at JFK International Airport
A Swiss Air aircraft pictured in London on 11 April. A pilot for Swiss Airways recently averted a four-plane collision at JFK International Airport (REUTERS)

The Independent has contacted Swiss Air for comment.

Last week’s incident at JFK comes after a string of airline mishaps that made headlines this year, including other incidents at the same airport.

In January, a Delta Boeing 737 came to a stop within 1,000 feet (305 metres) of a taxiing American Airlines Boeing 777 in a near-collision. An air traffic controller called for the Delta flight to abort just in the nick of time, preventing a crash. Two days later, two planes weren’t as lucky — a JetBlue flight stuck the tale of a second, empty plane after leaving its gate.

Meanwhile, a nearly identical near-miss incident happened just last week at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport outside of Washington, DC. A JetBlue flight was starting takeoff when an air traffic controller instructed a Southwest Airlines flight to cross the same runway. The JetBlue flight stopped takeoff, avoiding a collision.

Also last week, the FAA ordered all Alaska Airlines planes to ground for roughly an hour due to a faulty computer system.

Then, earlier this year, aircraft manufacturer Boeing was thrown into the national spotlight after a door plug fell off one of their planes mid-flight. Earlier this month, a Boeing whistleblower testified to Congress about several safety concerns.

Boeing whistleblower Sam Salehpour tells Congress he has nightmares of being stabbed

Sam Salehpour, a current quality engineer for the manufacturer, told a congressional committee that Boeing has a “culture of retaliation” when employees speak up about their concerns.

When asked if the planes are safe, Mr Salehpour testified: “It’s like an earthquake. When that hits the building ... [it has] to be prepared to accommodate that type of shake-up...Right now, from what I’ve seen, the aeroplanes are not being billed per spec, and per requirements.”

Mike Bedigan contributed reporting.

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