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U.S. agencies investigate averted plane crash at New York airport

NEW YORK –


U.S. 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.


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 agency said Saturday that it will investigate.


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.


Email messages left for Delta Air Lines were not immediately returned.


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


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Maysoon Khan is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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