Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Airplane takeoff halted in close call at US airport

AP, NEW YORK

A pilot of a jet carrying 286 passengers slammed on the brakes to abort takeoff at Kennedy Airport this week after another plane began taxiing toward the runway it was using, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Wednesday.

Lufthansa Flight 411 was cleared for takeoff and EgyptAir Flight 986 was instructed to stay behind a “hold line,” 76m behind the runway, at 6:50pm local time on Monday, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. The EgyptAir plane crossed the line, but did not enter the runway, she said.

“When air traffic control saw that, it canceled the takeoff for Lufthansa,” Bergen said, adding that the Lufthansa plane stopped “a considerable distance” from the EgyptAir jet.

In radio recordings posted on the Web site LiveATC.net, a controller in the JFK tower is heard giving takeoff clearance to the Lufthansa flight while another controller directs the EgyptAir plane.

“No! Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa!” shouts someone in the tower as the EgyptAir plane crosses the hold-short line.

“Cancel takeoff! Cancel takeoff plans!” a controller shouts to the Lufthansa jet.

The pilot of the Lufthansa plane, an Airbus A340, slammed on the brakes and came to a stop. Then the plane taxied off the -runway. The pilot told controllers he was worried his brakes may have overheated, so controllers sent a Port Authority crew to help check the plane’s landing gear.

“That was quite a show. Thought it was going to be a short career,” a pilot who witnessed the aborted takeoff remarked on the radio.

The FAA was looking at “pilot deviation” because the EgyptAir plane, a Boeing 777, didn’t follow air traffic instructions.

“The pilot was instructed to turn onto another taxiway, but did not,” Bergen said.

She said the FAA was investigating and would determine how close the two planes came.

EgyptAir officials said they had no knowledge of the close call.

There were no reports of injuries.

Bergen said investigators would listen to air traffic communications and look at radar replay.

Aviation authorities are increasingly worried about the danger of runway collisions as planes get bigger and airports more congested. In December, a JetBlue plane took a wrong turn at Boston’s Logan Airport and nearly taxied onto a runway where another plane was taking off.

The deadliest crash in aviation history was a runway collision. In 1977, a KLM Boeing 747 crashed into a Pan Am 747 on the same runway in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, killing 583 people.

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