We're relieved that JFK International Airport's Monday morning disaster was averted

JFK International Airport
JFK International Airport in New York on Monday morning
[courtesy: https://www.tripsavvy.com]

We are breathing a sigh of relief after seeing what could have been a massive disaster at JFK International Airport in New York on Monday morning. A rails incursion involving a departing Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 and a taxiing American Airlines Boeing 777 occurred on Friday, January 13, about 19:00 local time.

Simply put, the 777 crossed an operational runway against controller directions while the 737 was accelerating on its takeoff ringlet.

First and foremost, congratulations to the tower controller for his quick response. When his shift was done, I'm sure he took more than just a deep breath. Because this was a nocturnal operation, assessing the situation was made all the more difficult.

And kudos to the Delta crew for aborting their takeoff curl. When a controller cancels a takeoff clearance after the ability levers have already been set up, it is not a pick. That education is rarely heard. Despite the size of a 777, running towards the silhouette of that plane in the dark from a distance, wingtip nav low-cal as well as revolving beacon withal, is not slow.

Anything faster than 80 kts is considered a high-speed abort. According to data, the Boeing 737 hit roughly 105 knots—just seconds from from rotation speed. A rejected takeoff checklist would have been activated soon after. Since the Delta flight returned to the gate, an inspection of the brakes was almost certainly required. In addition, if the reversers were used, the engines needed to be inspected.

After listening to the recorded communication sequence, your initial instinct is to shake your head and convict the American Airlines crew. But, like with all near-misses, there's more to the story. Let's start with taxi clearance.

The controller directed AA Flight 106, a Boeing 777, to taxi off of their ramp expanse at Taxiway Tango Alpha before turning left on Bravo, just short of Taxiway Kilo. The controller's initial educational activity featured 4L as the deviation runway. The copilot read back the taxi instructions as well as the obligation to hold brusk of Taxiway Kilo, however the rails themselves were not read back. Small point, but perhaps the crew hadn't fully processed the data because the winds favored 31L at the time.

As AA 106 moved forward in its taxi, the controller gave the copilot permission to cross Runway 31L at Kilo, which he accepted. Despite the fact that this is a pretty common clearance at JFK (a taxi road on which I've probably logged hundreds of hours), the intersection can be perplexing, especially at night. Runway 4L, Runway 31L, Taxiway Kilo, and Taxiway Juliet all intersect near each other.

A Boeing 777 crew, on the other hand, is unremarkably experienced. If crews from New York are flying that particular flight to London, it shouldn't be their first time.

Was I one of the pilots who was new to the plane and not quite at ease? Was there a distraction in the cockpit because of that location? Was the copilot engrossed in a task that demanded a heads-down performance at precisely the wrong time?

JFK Port Authority was in charge of establishing a rail stop bar system in 1992, which was used as a model to test its performance. The organization is intended to provide pilots with a visual signal of whether it is safe to cross or go on a runway, coupled with crimson lights embedded in the pavement for stop and greenish lights for become. Not every airline-type airport accepts the organization.

JFK controllers were not pleased, because the technology was not designed in accordance with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) requirements, as it had been in Europe. According to the airdrome diagram, the end bar organization still remains at JFK; however, was it operational on the evening of January 13?

Regardless, the current condition of events calls for an objective investigation. Runway intrusions are a major source of worry. If other factors were at work, it is critical to use the data for prevention. The American Airlines flight crew will have the option to share their version of the outcome with both the FAA and the local flight role. Union representation is a function of a fair procedure in such cases.

I have no envy for the AA pilots. Whatever the repercussions, this event will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Perhaps this situation can serve as a useful lesson for all of us in the aviation world. Let us be thankful that one of the guardrails stayed in the category of an alarm controller. I fear to think what the headlines would be if that happened.


Dolph Nelson

Science and Technology enthusiast, obsessed with organic vegetables. He is intelligent and careful, but can also be very lazy and a bit grumpy. forcescast.com

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