Agencies investigate close call at JFK Airport

MAYSOON KHAN
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Officials are investigating a close call at a New York airport Friday night between a plane that was crossing a runway and another that was preparing for takeoff.

"(Expletive)! Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance! Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance!” an air controller said in an audio recording of Air Traffic Control communications when he noticed the other plane, operated by American Airlines, crossing in front. The recording was made by LiveATC, a website that monitors and posts flight communications.

Delta Air Lines' departing Boeing 737 plane then came to a “safe stop” on the John F. Kennedy International Airport runway as the other crossed in front around 8:45 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

“I think the controller made a good call to reject the takeoff," said John Cox, a retired pilot and professor of aviation safety at the University of Southern California.

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He said the rejected takeoff safety maneuver, which is when pilots stop the aircraft and discontinue the takeoff, is one they are “very, very familiar with.”

“Pilots practice rejected takeoff almost every time they get to the simulator,” he said.

The Delta plane stopped about 1,000 feet (about 0.3 kilometers) from where the American Airlines plane had crossed from an adjacent taxiway, according to the FAA statement.

The plane returned to the gate, where the 145 passengers deplaned and were provided overnight accommodations, a Delta spokesperson said. The flight to Santa Domingo Airport in the Dominican Republic took off Saturday morning.

The FAA said Saturday that it will investigate.

FILE - A clock at the entrance to JFK Airport in New York is pictured on Aug. 15, 2003. Officials are investigating a close call at the New York airport that happened Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, between a plane that was crossing a runway and another that was preparing for takeoff. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson, File)

The National Transportation Safety Board also said it was looking into the case.

“They'll go back and listen to every transmission between the American jet and air traffic control to see who misunderstood what,” Cox said.

“Delta will work with and assist aviation authorities on a full review of flight 1943 on Jan. 13 regarding a successful aborted takeoff procedure at New York-JFK. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and delay of their travels,” a Delta spokesperson said in a statement.

American Air Lines would not comment on the incident, and said they'd defer all questions to the FAA.