The second serious near-collision on the ground at a major US East Coast airport within a month occurred on 6 July at New York Kennedy, the US Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed. Both involved aircraft taking off just over the top of another at a runway crossing.

The Kennedy incident, involving an ABX Air McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63 freighter and an Israir Airlines Boeing 767-300ER, occurred in heavy rain which degraded the effectiveness of the airport surface detection system, says the FAA, adding that the airport movement-area safety system also “failed to alert”. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

The FAA says at about 01:40 local time the 767, with 12 crew and 250 passengers on board, was cleared to taxi to runway 22R via taxiway H, turning left on to B. But the 767 missed the left turn and crossed 22R without clearance. Meanwhile, the DC-8 had been cleared to take off on 22R, but the pilots did not see the 767 until they had already passed decision speed and had to continue, rotating vigorously to improve the angle of climb.

ABX Air says the crew estimates it missed the 767’s fuselage by about 14m (45ft). The 767’s captain then advised the tower there was an aircraft on the runway. The ABX captain said the 767 was cleared only because the DC-8 was empty and the co-pilot – the pilot flying – had decided to use full power at take-off because of the weather.

The previous incident was on 9 June at Boston Logan airport. An Airbus A330-300 and a Boeing 737-300, carrying 381 passengers and crew between them, were cleared for take-off almost simultaneously on crossing runways by different controllers in the same tower (Flight International, 19-25 July).

Source: Flight International