Close to disaster as American Airlines plane flies past departing Delta Jet in New York

Close to disaster as American Airlines plane flies past departing Delta Jet in New York

On Friday night, American Airlines Flight 106 from New York JFK to London Heathrow nearly collided with a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 bound for Santo Domingo. The American aircraft appears to have attempted to take off from the wrong track. The incident was first reported early Saturday morning to the aviation watchdog JonNYC.

The American Airlines plane was supposed to take off from runway 4L, but steered clear of 31L – and crossed in front of the Delta plane. Air traffic control shouted, “Delta 1943 revoke takeoff clearance!” The Delta aircraft aborted takeoff and cleared the runway.

ATC:Shit! Delta 1943 cancels take-off authorization! Delta 1943 canceled the takeoff clearance.

Delta: Rejection

ATC: Ok, phew, Delta 1943. Delta 1943 can you take a cab or do you need a few minutes to do some checks?

Delta: Yeah we can get off the Delta 1943 track.

Meanwhile, air traffic control had words for an American pass in front of an active runway:

American: The last clearance given to us, we were allowed to cross, is that correct?

ATC: American 106 Heavy, we’re taking off runway 4 left, I guess we’ll listen to the tapes but you’re supposed to take off runway 4 left, you’re currently holding short of runway 31 left.

JonNYC shares the air traffic control audio clips:

At 14 seconds into this illustration, you can see the Delta aircraft beginning its takeoff roll, aborting at the last minute when the American Airlines Boeing 777-200 crossed right in front of it.

Delta flight passenger Brian Healy reports that Delta 1943 had sped up for “2 or 3 seconds” when it began to brake, much to the astonishment of passengers who were “gasping[ed]and fell into “complete silence” before hearing the captain who told the passengers that they had been ordered by air traffic control to abandon. They came back to the door and tried again the next morning.

Here’s a report JonNYC is passing on from someone aboard the American flight.

In the end, air traffic control saw what was happening and acted quickly when, it appears, the US flight to London misheard its instructions. I have contacted American Airlines for a statement and will update if I have a response.

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