By Victoria Cavaliere
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two airliners nearly collided above New York airports earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement on Friday.
The incident occurred at about 2:40 p.m. on June 13, when a Delta Air Lines Inc Boeing 747 arriving from Tokyo at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Runway 4L “lost the required amount of separation with a Shuttle America Embraer E170″ taking off from LaGuardia Airport’s Runway 13 en route to Jacksonville, Florida, said the FAA, which is investigating the matter.
The planes were a half-mile apart horizontally and 200 feet vertically, the FAA said.
“The two aircraft were turning away from each other at the point where they lost the required separation,” the statement said. “Both aircraft landed safely.”
The agency said the Delta flight 172 plane was cleared at the Kennedy runway, but the pilot decided not to complete the landing, a standard procedure known as a “missed approach.”
Delta said in a statement that it “is cooperating with the FAA’s investigation. Safety is always our top priority.”
The Atlanta-based airline also said it viewed as “credible,” an account of the incident posted to NYCAviation.com, an aviation enthusiast website. That account said the Delta flight was on its final approach around the same time as an American Airlines flight, when both pilots almost simultaneously employed a standard landing procedure called “the go-around.”
“Departure traffic on JFK’s runway 4L/R typically makes a right turn to avoid conflicting with traffic from LaGuardia, but that was not possible in this unexpected instance where two aircraft went around at the same time,” NYC Aviation said, citing flight radar information.
A spokesman for Delta, Morgan Durrant, declined to say whether passengers were aware of how close the two planes came to colliding.
Shuttle America, a unit of Republic Airways Holdings Inc, did not respond to a request for comment.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bernadette Baum)