In-depth Analysis of JFK Runway Near-Miss Incident - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

Overview of the Incident

On January 13, 2023, a serious near-miss incident occurred at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) involving a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 and an American Airlines Boeing 777. The Delta flight, prepared for takeoff, was cleared by air traffic control to proceed on Runway 4L. Concurrently, the American Airlines flight, bound for London Heathrow, inadvertently crossed the same runway without proper clearance, leading to a critical situation.

Role of Technology in Averting Disaster

The prompt intervention by the Airport Surface Detection Equipment – Model X (ASDE-X) played a crucial role in preventing a potential disaster. This technology, which was recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 1991 and later implemented, issued both aural and visual alerts to the air traffic controller. The controller, upon receiving the alerts, immediately instructed the Delta flight to abort takeoff, effectively mitigating the risk of collision.

Factors Contributing to the Incident

Investigations revealed that the near-miss was primarily due to human factors. The captain of the American Airlines flight continued along an incorrect taxiway due to distractions from multiple cockpit tasks. This error was compounded by the other crew members’ focus on separate tasks, which diverted their attention away from monitoring the aircraft’s position. Additionally, istanbul airport gate to gate service is the ground controller tasked with overseeing the taxi instructions was momentarily distracted by a lower-priority task.

NTSB Recommendations to Enhance Safety

  • Verbal Confirmation: Flight crews should verbally confirm the runway number before crossing, to ensure clarity and reduce the chances of miscommunication.
  • Safety Management Systems: Airlines are encouraged to utilize their safety management systems more effectively to detect and rectify navigation errors on the ground.
  • Runway Status Lights: Evaluation and possible improvement of the logic behind the activation of runway status lights to better warn pilots of potential runway incursions.
  • Advanced Alert Systems: Collaboration with manufacturers to develop advanced systems that alert crews about traffic on runways and approaching aircraft, aiming for installation in both new and existing aircraft.
  • Cockpit Voice Recorders: Updating the requirement for cockpit voice recorders to capture the last 25 hours of cockpit audio, significantly expanding from the current two-hour recording mandate.

These recommendations, if implemented, could significantly reduce the likelihood of similar incidents in the future by strengthening the layers of safety within airport operations.

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