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Air Traffic Controllers Cleared Four Planes to Cross Runway at New York JFK as Swiss Flight to Zurich Was About to Takeoff

Air Traffic Controllers Cleared Four Planes to Cross Runway at New York JFK as Swiss Flight to Zurich Was About to Takeoff

a plane flying in the sky

The pilots of a SWISS International Airlines flight to Zurich averted a near disaster at New York JFK on Wednesday when air traffic controllers cleared four different planes to cross the same runway that the Swiss Airbus A330 with up to 236 passengers onboard had just been given permission to take off from.

In fact, the pilots of Swiss flight LX17 on Wednesday afternoon had even started to accelerate down the runway when the Captain spotted the planes crossing in front of them and quickly aborted the takeoff before it was too late, as flagged by View From the Wing and xJonNYC on X.

Audio of air traffic control communications from New York JFK reveals how the Swiss plane was ordered to line up at the end of runway 4L and wait just before Delta flight 29, which had arrived from Nice, France, was given permission to cross the runway.

The Swiss flight was then given permission to takeoff just before American Airlines flight 2246 which had just arrived from Dallas Fort Worth, Republic flight 5752 and Delta flight 420 were all told to cross runway 17 at different crossing points in quick succession.

The voice of the calm and collected Swiss pilot is then heard saying: “Rejecting takeoff. Traffic on the runway”.

In the end, the Swiss flight departed New York JFK just 45 minutes late and no harm was done but the incident does once again cast a spotlight on near-miss runway incidents.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced plans to install new airfield surveillance systems that are designed to reduce the risk of runway incursions by “improving air traffic controllers’ situational awareness.”

The technology is to be installed at Austin-Bergstrom, Indianapolis, Nashville and Dallas Love Field just July and ‘scores’ of other airports will get the tech by the end of next year.

The system is called Surface Awareness Initiative, uses ADS-B data to show ‘surface traffic’ – such as a taxiing aircraft – on an airport map. The tech will be deployed at airports that don’t have a surface surveillance tool.

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