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Pilots involved in JFK near miss subpoenaed after refusing interview

Cockpit tapes have also been recorded over after 13 January close call at New York airport

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 14 February 2023 21:33 GMT
Passenger on United flight that plummeted 1500ft relives terrifying experience

Federal investigators have issued subpoenas for three American Airline pilots who refused to sit for a recorded interview about a near miss at JFK Airport in January.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report that it had tried to interview the pilots three times, but they had shown a “repeated unwillingness to proceed”.

“The flight crew refused to be interviewed on the basis that their statements would be audio recorded for transcription,” the NTSB preliminary report said.

“As a result... subpoenas for their testimony have been issued.”

The federal accident investigator also revealed that cockpit tapes were recorded over shortly after the close call at Kennedy Airport on 13 January.

According to the preliminary report, the American Airlines Boeing 777 crossed an active runway without permission from air traffic control as it was preparing to depart for Heathrow.

The mishap led to a Delta Air Lines 737 being forced to abort its takeoff, and the planes came within 1,400 feet of each other, according to the report.

In a statement, the Allied Pilots Association said NTSB investigators had recently begun insisting on electronic recordings and transcriptions of interview in the name of producing a “more accurate record.”

An American Airlines plane collided with a shuttle bus at LAX on Friday night, leaving five people injured

But the union that represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots said this would hinder investigations by leading to less candid answers.

“NTSB investigations are intended to be fact-finding proceedings with no adverse parties. We do not believe that this should be an adversarial issue,” the union said in a statement.

Audio captured air traffic controllers’ panic as the two commercial planes nearly collided at last month.

“S***! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff plans! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff plans!” a controller says.

After the disaster was averted, the controller could be heard letting out a sigh.

American Airlines has said it is cooperating with the investigation, and had made the pilots available for an interview.

The JFK incident is one of three recent collisions or close calls at US airports that are under investigation by federal authorities

Last Tuesday, a FedEx cargo plane was attempting to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, when it had to reverse course after a Southwest Airlines plane was cleared to depart from the same runway, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The cargo plane came within 100 feet of the passenger jet, the FAA said.

“The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out,” the FAA said in a statement.

On Friday night, five were injured after an American Airlines passenger jet collided with a shuttle bus at Los Angeles International Airport.

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