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Sat, Jul 12, 2008

Another Close Call Over JFK Spurs FAA To End Simultaneous Ops

Will No Longer Land Traffic On 22L When 13s Are Also Active

On Friday, two airliners came within about a half-mile of each other over New York's JFK International Airport, according to CNN... the second time this week separation concerns over JFK have made headlines.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown confirmed a Delta Air Lines airliner went missed Friday afternoon, and came within 600 feet vertically and a half-mile laterally of a Comair CRJ900 taking off on a perpendicular runway.

Judging from the ATC recording archived on LiveATC.net, the situation was not particularly tense... contrary to somewhat breathless reports in the general media.

The pilot of Delta Flight 123, a Boeing 757-200 inbound from Shannon, Ireland elected to abort his approach to land on runway 22L, which put the plane's flight path in conflict with Comair Flight 1520 that had just departed off Runway 13R.

The JFK tower controller calmly directed the Comair jet to turn right immediately after the Delta jet called its intent to go-around, then directed the Delta airliner to turn left.

It's possible this incident would have gone unnoticed, were it not for another conflict that occurred Monday over JFK, under almost identical circumstances. As ANN reported, in that case a Cayman Airways Boeing 737 on approach to runway 22L executed a missed approach and conflicted with a Linea Aeroea Navional de Chile 767 departing off 13R.

Again, tower controllers intervened to attempt to resolve the conflict, assigning both aircraft diverging headings. The FAA said the two planes involved in the July 7 incident came no closer 300 feet vertically, and no more than a half-mile horizontally That account differs from the one given by air traffic controllers, though... who claim those two jets came within 100 feet vertically and much closer than a half-mile horizontally.

The similarities between both incidents -- combined with recent media attention about the potential issues stemming from simultaneous operations on perpendicular runways at major airports -- almost guarantee the NTSB will investigate.

Friday's incident prompted the FAA to implement procedures to ensure "that aircraft of one runway clear out of the path of the other runway before the second flight comes down on the other runway," spokeswoman Brown said. "We've had two events recently and I think we want to make sure the appropriate safety margins are in place."

Dean Iacopelli, spokesman for the New York Chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, confirmed the FAA has "terminated that perpendicular simultaneous approach procedure."

FMI: Listen To The ATC Recording (at 1722Z)

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