Two Planes Nearly Collide Over New York City, FAA Investigates

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement Friday that it is investigating a “near-miss” that took place when a flight landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport came within 200 feet of a passenger jet departing LaGuardia, N.Y.

At about 3:45 p.m. on June 13, a Delta Airlines Boeing 747 arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport had a close call with a departing Shuttle America Embraer E170 leaving LaGuardia Airport. Travelling hundreds of miles an hour, the planes were on different altitudes, but at their closest point they were separated by only four-tenths of a mile horizontally and 200 feet vertically.

The jets were "turning away from each other at the point where they lost the required separation," the FAA said. Both aircrafts landed safely.

A source told that the aircrafts were as close as 100 feet apart, but the FAA would not confirm that report.

Air transport director for Flight International David Kaminski-Morrow told CBS News that “air proximity incidents” are routinely investigated by the FAA. He said the incidents can range from "a simple but nonthreatening loss of separation or, at the other, a genuine risk of midair collision."

In the timeless words of George Carlin, the near-miss might be more aptly called a “near-hit.”

Kaminski-Morrow added that most of these incidents involve private aircrafts because they use "see-and-avoid principles, rather than commercial airliners which operate in controlled airspace and which are mandated to carry sophisticated anti-collision systems."

A midair collision on Dec. 16, 1960, also known as the Park Slope Crash, occurred between two passenger jets over New York City and resulted in the deaths of 134 people. United Flight 826 carrying 84 people was en route from Chicago O’Hare Airport to JFK  then known as Idlewild. Trans World Airlines 226 carrying 44 people was en route from Ohio to LaGuardia. United 826 was having trouble with one of its receivers, but did not notify air traffic control of the problem. It ended up 12 miles off course, overshot its holding pattern and then collided with TWA 226 at about 5,000 feet. Flight 226 plummeted and crashed into Staten Island, and 826 crashed in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Everyone on board died and six people on the ground were killed.

LaGuardia and JFK sit on the borders of Brooklyn and Queens and are home to about 5 million people as of 2011. In 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 from JFK to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, crashed in the Queens neighborhood of Belle Harbor just after takeoff. All 260 on board and five on the ground were killed. Belle Harbor was left in ruin. Fire from the crash burned dozens of homes.

Sources: NBC News, CBS News