July 8, 2008

Air Controllers Say Close Call at Kennedy

Air traffic controllers say two airborne passenger jets came within 100 feet of each other in a near collision last weekend at New York's Kennedy Airport.

The two planes avoided colliding when one of the pilots pulled up by chance at the last minute, leaving controllers stunned and freaked out, The New York Post reported Tuesday.

A Cayman Airways jet arriving Saturday night from Grand Cayman Island was landing on one Kennedy runway when a LAN Chile jet headed for Santiago, Chile, was taking off on another runway at a right angle to the first one, the newspaper said.

(Controllers) see two converging targets in one airspace, National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Don Church said. It freaked them out, adding that a disaster was averted when the Cayman pilot decided to make a go-round, a routine maneuver in which he pulled up.

The Federal Aviation Authority, however, told the Post the planes were never in danger of colliding, saying the aircraft came no closer than 300 feet vertically and more than a half-mile horizontally.