Swiss Air avoids disaster at JFK Airport after 4 other planes cleared to cross runway at same time

ByIke Ejiochi ABCNews logo
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Close call for Swiss Air after runway miscommunication at JFK Airport
Ike Ejiochi has the story on the close call at JFK Airport.

NEW YORK CITY -- There was a near disaster on the runway at JFK International Airport.

A communications error almost sent four different planes to cross a runway at the same exact time.

It happened last week and fortunately, one quick-thinking pilot aborted takeoff.

It turns out that the move avoided tragedy.

The FAA is investigating the near disaster.

An April 17 Zurich-bound Swiss Air flight cleared for takeoff began to speed down the runway but was forced to abort after noticing air traffic control also cleared four other planes to cross that same runway, putting them on a collision course.

Audio from Air Traffic Control confirmed that Swiss Air Flight 17 was cleared for takeoff.

ALSO SEE: Investigation underway after 2 planes nearly collide in close call at JFK airport

Then, moments later, as the plane was heading down the runway, the pilot suddenly saw the other planes taxiing and aborted the takeoff.

"Swiss 17k heavy rejecting takeoff. Traffic on the runway," the pilot said.

The Swiss airline praised their quick-thinking team. They said in a statement, "Due to the high level of situational awareness and quick reaction of our crew, a potentially dangerous situation was quickly de-escalated."

"Moving four aircraft across an active runway and one controller not talking to another indicates a special level of stress and this is one of the questions here. Is this happening too much around the country?" said John Nance, Aviation Expert, ABC News contributor.

This incident came just a day before another near-catastrophic close call. There was panic in the tower at Washington's Reagan National Airport as two packed planes came within 400 feet of each other.

"Southwest stop! Southwest 2937 stop!" Air Traffic Control said.

A JetBlue flight cleared for takeoff was forced to slam on its brakes after Air Traffic Control noticed they cleared a Southwest Airlines plane to taxi across the same runway.

The Mornings @ 10 team talks about the persisting airport issue.