Lufthansa Flight 411 was cleared for takeoff and EgyptAir Flight 986 was instructed to stay behind a "hold line," 250 feet behind the runway, at 6:50 p.m. Monday, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. The EgyptAir failed to stay behind the line, but did not enter the runway, she said.
"When air traffic control saw that, it canceled the takeoff for Lufthansa," Bergen said, adding that the Lufthansa plane stopped "a considerable distance" from the EgyptAir jet.
In radio recordings posted on the website LiveATC.net, a controller in the JFK tower is heard giving takeoff clearance to the Lufthansa flight while another controller directs the EgyptAir plane.
"No! Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa!" shouts someone in the tower as the EgyptAir plane crosses the hold-short line.
"Cancel takeoff! Cancel takeoff plans!" a controller shouts to the Lufthansa jet.
The Lufthansa plane slammed on its brakes and came to a stop.
Then it taxied off the runway. The pilot told controllers he was worried his brakes may have overheated, so controllers sent a Port Authority crew to help check the plane's landing gear.
"That was quite a show. Thought it was going to be a short career," a pilot who witnessed the aborted takeoff remarked on the radio.
The FAA was looking at "pilot deviation" because the EgyptAir plane didn't follow air traffic instructions.
"The pilot was instructed to turn onto another taxiway but did not," she said.
She said the FAA is investigating and will determine how close the two planes got to each other.
EgyptAir officials said they had no knowledge of the incident.
The Lufthansa flight was heading to Munich, said spokesman Martin Riecken. After the takeoff was halted, the captain returned to the gate for a maintenance check while the passengers remained on the plane. The fight departed about two hours later, Riecken said.
There were no reports of injuries.
The New York Post reported that the EgyptAir flight was bound for Cairo. It was not immediately known how many people it was carrying. It departed about 90 minutes after the incident.
Bergen said investigators will listen to air traffic communications and look at radar replay.