The United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is reportedly probing what has been described as a near collision Saturday night between Caribbean Airways and Jetblue Airline at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, according to reports.
Having been given a clearance, a passenger-packed JetBlue flight 1295 headed full throttle down the airport’s runway, but, at about the same time, Caribbean Airways Flight 526 had just landed, according to WABC TV Eyewitness News.
The television station said Air Traffic Control gave Caribbean Airways instructions to hold short, meaning to stop before crossing the active runway, but the Caribbean Airways pilot never answered because “he was on the wrong frequency and never heard tower instructions to stop, nor repeated calls from the tower.
“Flight 526 rolled across the runway as the JetBlue plane neared take-off speeds,” WABC TV said. “Fortunately, the JetBlue pilots saw the other plane crossing in the night and slammed on their brakes.”
The FAA said the planes never came within 2,800 feet of each other, but WABC TV that is “not that much space when one plane is going 130 miles per hour.”
“We were headed full steam down the runway, and the plane came to a screeching stop,” said passenger Brandon Card.
“When they said a collision was inevitable if pilot hadn’t braked, I said ‘WHAT?!’” added passenger Krista Hollis.
Former commercial airline pilot Bob Ober told WABC: “It’s about as bad as it can get without having two planes collide.
“In just a matter of two to three seconds, that plane would have been at a speed where it could not have stopped,” added Ober, who spent decades as an airline pilot and flew in and out of JFK hundreds of times.
JFK was scheduled to get a new runway lighting system that would help prevent through flashing red lights, this exact kind of close call, WABC TV said, adding that red in-pavement lights illuminate when it is not safe to enter or cross the runway.