Passenger jets come too close over New York; FAA investigating

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NEW YORK — A Boeing 747 and a commuter jet came too close for comfort over New York City after the larger plane missed its landing and soared into the air just after the smaller aircraft had taken off, aviation officials said Friday.

The incident occurred June 13 at 3:45 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was first reported Friday morning by the local NBC affiliate. The report was confirmed in an emailed statement from the FAA.

According to the FAA, the Delta Boeing 747 was arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport. At the same time, a Shuttle America Embraer E170 was taking off from LaGuardia Airport, which is about 10 miles away. The pilot of the larger jet "made a decision not to complete the landing," a standard procedure known as a "missed approach."

Audio of the pilot's brief exchange with an air traffic controller indicated that this put the jet dangerously close to the smaller plane.

"Are you turning?" the controller asked the jet's pilot after the missed approach.

"Uh, yes sir," he replied.

"Heavy traffic, 12 o'clock," the controller said quickly, emphasizing the "12 o'clock" to indicate another plane directly in front of the jet. At that point, the Embraer was 1,400 feet in the air and climbing.

"OK, we're turning right," the larger jet's pilot responded.

At some point in the process, the FAA said the jets "lost the required separation," meaning they came closer than regulations permit for safety. The statement did not define "required separation," but NBC quoted unidentified sources as saying the two planes came withing 100 feet of each other.

The Embraer E170 carries about 80 passengers and is 98 feet long. The Boeing 747 can carry up to 600 passengers, depending on the year of the aircraft's production. The most recent Boeings are about 250 feet long.