Near Disaster As American Airlines Plane Passes In Front Of Departing Delta Jet In New York

On Friday night, American Airlines flight 106 from New York JFK to London Heathrow had a near-collision with a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 headed to Santo Domingo. The American plane appears to have attempted to depart from the wrong runway. The incident was first reported early Saturday morning by aviation watchdog JonNYC.

The American Airlines aircraft was supposed to depart runway 4L, but held short of 31L – and crossed in front of the Delta plane. Air traffic control yelled, “Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance!” The Delta plane stopped its takeoff, and cleared the runway.

ATC:Shit! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance.

Delta: Rejecting

ATC: Alright, whew, Delta 1943. Delta 1943 are you able to taxi, or do you need a couple of minutes to run checks?

Delta: Yeah we can get off the runway Delta 1943.

Meanwhile air traffic control had words for American crossing in front of an active runway:

American: The last clearance we were given, we were cleared to cross is that correct?

ATC: American 106 Heavy, we’re departing runway 4 left, I guess we’ll listen to the tapes but you’re supposed to depart runway 4 left, you’re currently holding short of runway 31 left.

JonNYC shares the air traffic control audio excerpts:

Two audio excerpts from @liveatc

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) January 14, 2023

At 14 seconds into this illustration you can see the Delta plane begin its takeoff roll, aborting at the last minute as the American Airlines Boeing 777-200 crossed right in front of it.

— Casey Wade (@CaseWade) January 14, 2023

A passenger on the Delta flight, Brian Healy, reports that Delta 1943 had accelerated for “2 or 3 seconds” when it began braking, to the astonishment of passengers who “gasp[ed]” and fell into “total silence” before hearing from the captain who told passengers that they had been ordered by air traffic control to abort. They taxied back to the gate, and tried again the next morning.

The pilot came on after a couple of agonizing minutes to report ATC had ordered the takeoff to abort. Took an hour to taxi back to the gate… and I took a pass on going back to JFK this morning, when DL1943 finally took off 15 hours later.

— Brian Healy (@bhealyNYC) January 14, 2023

Here’s a report that JonNYC relays from someone on board the American flight.

"was on AA106 last night watching our plane on PlaneFinder.Approached the active runway. Assumed we’d make a right.Crossed the active runway and pilot pushed for LOTS of power. Seemed extremely weird. Then sat motionless for about 20 minutes. Makes more sense now that I see this"

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) January 14, 2023

Ultimately air traffic control saw what was happening and acted quickly when, it appears, the American flight to London misheard its instructions. I’ve reached out to American Airlines for a statement and will update if I hear back.

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