The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating another runway incursion, this one involving a Swiss Airbus A330 and four other jets at New York’s John F Kennedy International airport on 17 April.

A preliminary NTSB report released on 18 June says a JFK controller cleared the Swiss aircraft to take off from JFK’s runway 4L at about 16:46 local time. Moments later another controller cleared four other jets to cross the same runway.

Those other aircraft included an American Airlines Boeing 737, a Republic Airlines Embraer 175 and two Delta Air Lines jets, a 767 and A220.

The Swiss pilots avoided collision by rejecting their take-off, the NTSB says. The aircraft had been operating Swiss flight 17 to Zurich.

NTSB JFK event

Source: National Transportation Safety Board

This NTSB diagramme shows the locations of a Swiss A330 and four other jets involved in a 17 April 2024 runway incursion at JFK

JFK is equipped with airport surveillance detection equipment – technology that alerts air traffic controllers of possible runway conflicts. The system presents the location of aircraft and other vehicles on colour displays and issues visual and aural alerts to controllers when detecting possible conflicts, the NTSB notes.

The system did not alert controllers to the 17 April runway event because the Swiss jet had not yet accelerated enough to be classified by the technology as in “departure state”.

The NTSB has not released further details.

The event is among several close calls involving commercial aircraft at US airports in recent years. The NTSB recently said it has been investigating more than 10 such events.

Those include a near-disaster at Austin in February 2023 that involved FedEx 767 that, while attempting to land at Austin on a foggy morning, nearly descended onto a Southwest Airlines 737 taking off from the same runway. That event resulted from errors by an air traffic controller, the NTSB said.

Another high-profile event occurred in January 2023 at JFK, when pilots steered an American Airlines 777 across a runway without clearance, putting them in the path of a Delta 737 taking off. The NTSB attributed that incident to the American pilots being distracted.