October 6, 2005

Boston’s Logan airport probing runway scare, FAA says

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. aviation authorities are probing a
runway scare at Boston's Logan airport involving an American
Airlines jet that abruptly aborted take-off this week to avoid
another aircraft, air officials said on Thursday.

Nobody was injured in Tuesday's incident. But it was the
16th of its kind at the airport since October 2004, raising
concern about safety at one of the nation's busiest airfields
that handles 420,000 departures and arrivals a year.

The FAA said the incident occurred when a regional jet with
18 people on board landed and crossed a runway on which an
American Airlines MD-82 carrying 131 people had begun its

The regional jet operated by American Eagle, a unit of
American Airlines , had been instructed by a tower controller
to stay at a runway after landing and to remain on the same
radio frequency, said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the


But without the tower's approval, the pilot switched to
ground control, which gave conflicting instructions, telling
the plane to cross the runway on which the American Airlines
aircraft was starting to take off, Peters added.

Spotting the regional jet, the tower controller tried to
call its crew, but they had already switched to a different
radio frequency. Unable to reach them, he told the American
Airlines pilots to abort take-off.

The aircraft came within 1,700 ft of each other, Peters
said. The Boston Globe newspaper, however, on Thursday cited a
source close to the investigation saying the planes were less
than 1,000 ft apart.

"It's being investigated as an operational error, meaning a
mistake was made by a controller, and also as a pilot
deviation," Peters said. Pilots must have approval from the
tower controller before switching radio frequencies, he said.

The FAA is sending a team familiar with Logan to evaluate
its operations and determine what could be done to avoid
similar incursions.

In August, the aviation watchdog and MassPort, which
operates Logan, said it would curb runway incursions after a
similar incident involving a FedEx Corp. Airbus A300 cargo jet
and a JetBlue flight.