Near disaster as American Airlines plane passes in front of departing Delta Jet in New York

Near disaster as American Airlines plane passes in front of 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 en route to Santo Domingo. The American plane appears to have attempted to take off the wrong runway. The incident was the first reported early Saturday morning by the aviation watchdog JonNYC.

The American Airlines plane was due to leave runway 4L, but only got as far as 31L – crossing in front of the Delta plane. Air traffic control yelled, “Delta 1943 cancels takeoff clearance!” The Delta aircraft halted takeoff and cleared the runway.

ATC:Shit! Delta 1943 Cancels Takeoff Clearance! Delta 1943 cancels takeoff clearance.

Delta: Reject

ATC: Okay, Delta 1943. Delta 1943 can you taxi, or do you need a few minutes to do checks?

Delta: Yes, we can get off Delta 1943 airstrip.

Meanwhile, air traffic control had words for American crossing for an active runway:

American: The last permission we got was to cross, is that correct?

ATC: American 106 Heavy, we’re departing from runway 4 on the left, I think we’ll listen to the tapes, but you should leave runway 4 on the left, you’re currently short of runway 31 on the left.

JonNYC shares the air traffic control audio clips:

At 14 seconds in this image, you can see the Delta plane begin its takeoff roll, breaking off at the last second as the American Airlines Boeing 777-200 crossed just in front of it.

A passenger on the Delta flight, Brian Healy, reports that Delta 1943 sped up “2 or 3 seconds” when it started to brake, to the surprise of passengers who were “gasping[ed]’ and fell into ‘total silence’ before hearing the captain tell passengers that they had been ordered to abort by air traffic control. They taxied back to the gate and tried again the next morning.

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

Eventually, air traffic control saw what was happening and acted quickly when, it turns out, the US flight to London misunderstood his instructions. I have contacted American Airlines for a statement and will update if I hear anything.

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