Near-fatal collision on runway at NYC’s JFK Airport – FAA to investigate

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to launch an investigation into a near-fatal collision between two planes on a runway at New York’s JFK Airport (JFK) on Friday 13th January.

New York City skyline at night
Air traffic controllers at NYC’s JFK Airport had to act on their feet to prevent a potential tragedy | © CDINYC

A Worrying Incident On Friday the 13th

At approximately 8:45 p.m. on Friday 13th January, a Delta Air Lines aircraft heading to Santo Domingo Airport (SDQ) in the Dominican Republic was preparing for take-off when an American Airlines plane heading to London Heathrow Airport (LHR), England, crossed its path on runway 4L from an adjacent taxiway at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City, USA.

Audio extracts give an insight into the worried reaction of air traffic controllers who turned the air blue as they noticed the fast-approaching American Airlines plane and rushed to prevent what could have been a fatal collision.

The American Airlines plane was forced to return to the terminal, and the flight was delayed until the following day owing to crew resourcing issues. Passengers were provided with overnight accommodation, and the plane eventually departed just before 10:20 a.m. on Saturday morning.

A Near-Fatal Collision Prevented

No individuals are reported to have been injured in the incident although passengers on board the American Airlines flight reported feeling as though they were suddenly thrust forward when the plane came to an abrupt stop.

The Delta Air Lines plane, a Boeing 737, is reported to have been carrying 145 passengers and six crew members, whilst the American Airlines aircraft, a Boeing 777, is said to have been carrying 137 passengers and 14 crew members.

Whilst the airport’s quick-thinking air traffic controllers were able to prevent what could have been a catastrophe, the CAA and additionally the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will now launch investigations into the runway incursion to ascertain what caused the incident and what action will be taken next. Delta Air Lines is cooperating fully with the relevant authorities involved in the investigation, and American Airlines is reported to be directing all inquiries about the incident to the FAA.

A near-fatal collision almost occurred between a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 and an American Airlines Boeing 777
The incident at JFK Airport involved a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 and an American Airlines Boeing 777 | © Colin Cooke Photo (top image) and Brandon Siska (bottom image)

A Case of Pilot Deviation?

Whilst the reason for the error has not currently been announced, there is speculation that the incident may have been the result of pilot deviation, in that the American Airlines plane may have entered the wrong runway in preparation for take-off.

Pilots in cockpit
Questions still remain unanswered about how the near-fatal collision was able to occur | © Alex Pereslavtsev

Recent Tragic News in Aviation 

The news, only recently announced, comes days after a Nepalese plane disaster which took the lives of 72 people, including 68 passengers and four crew members, on board a Yeti Airlines plane heading to the city of Pokhara in Nepal. The incident is one of the deadliest aviation disasters in the country’s history.

What are your thoughts on the near-fatal collision on Friday the 13th?

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Rachel Dunster
Rachel Dunster
Aviation Reporter