Investigation Launched Over Close Call on JFK Runway

Investigation Launched After 2 Planes Nearly Collide on Runway

( – On June 30, 1956, two planes collided over the Grand Canyon, killing 128 people. The government launched the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) two years following the accident, and the agency has maintained control over air traffic since. Its responsibilities include directing departing and arriving flights, ensuring airliners don’t come within dangerous proximity to each other. Nonetheless, on Friday, January 13, two planes narrowly missed each other at JFK airport, sparking new concerns.

Delta Air Lines Flight 1943, headed toward Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was taxiing down the runway to take off when it received an alert that there was another plane in its path. The pilot was able to stop the plane, narrowly avoiding an American Airlines Boeing 777 by 1,000 feet. Passengers onboard reportedly screamed and gasped at the near-miss, according to the New York Post. A passenger on one of the flights was reported by CBS News saying that knew what was happening “was not normal,” and that they felt a jolt as the plane came to a sharp halt.

Instead of queueing back up to continue the flight, Delta delayed the trip until the following day, when it took off safely. However, the incident has raised questions as to how something like this could happen in the first place.

JFK has a special sensor system, Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X, to help air traffic controllers identify areas of potential concern. The setup detected the two planes in close proximity and set off an alarm, according to the preliminary report obtained by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Recordings from Air Traffic Control revealed that the American Airlines pilots had permission to cross the runway. They even accurately repeated back the instructions they had directly received.

There was a momentary panic as the controllers directed Delta to abort takeoff. Awareness on the part of Delta prevented what could’ve been a bad accident. The incident is now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA. According to WSJ, a Delta spokesperson said the airline “will work with and assist aviation authorities on a full review.”

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