FAA denies close call at JFK

July 7, 2008 4:54:25 PM PDT
The Federal Aviation Administration says radar data contradict air traffic controllers' claim that two planes nearly collided at John F. Kennedy Airport over the weekend.The data show the aircraft were not in danger, FAA officials said Monday.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the aircraft came no closer than 300 feet vertically and more than a half-mile horizontally as one plane took off and another attempted to land Saturday evening.

There was no potential for conflict, he said.

Controllers said the planes came within 100 feet vertically and practically zero miles horizontally. The average distance between planes at the airport is about 1,000 feet and 3 miles.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Barrett Byrnes said Cayman Airways Flight 792 executed a routine "go-around" - a routine maneuver in which pilots pull up at the last minute instead of landing - around 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile, LAN Flight 533 was leaving from a perpendicular runway, he said.

Byrnes said the controller ordered the inbound pilot to take a hard left and the outbound a hard right, avoiding a collision.

The controllers said Kennedy is among a number of airports that use perpendicular runways simultaneously, and Saturday's incident shows why the practice should be stopped.

The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into the incident. A spokeswoman for LAN-Chile said the report was false.


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