Monday, 7 February 2011

Questions after near Midair Plane Crash over New York

California plane crash lawyers are asking questions about the Federal Aviation Administration's reporting methods after an American Airlines jet came close to two Air Force planes in midair. A potentially fatal crash was averted in time, and the National Transportation Safety Board has already begun an investigation.

The incident occurred on January 20th, when an American Airlines jumbo jet that had just taken off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, came within a mile of two Air Force C-17 cargo planes. The American Airlines Boeing 777 was in contact with one air traffic controller, while the two Air Force planes were under the control of another traffic controller. However, all the planes were close to the boundary that divided the two air traffic controllers’ air space.

One of the traffic controllers managed to avoid a collision between the two planes, by telling the AA pilot to take evasive action. The American Airlines pilot also responded to a cockpit warning to descend. A crash was averted, and no one was injured. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the encounter occurred southeast of New York City, most likely over Atlantic Ocean.

This is the most recent in a series of such near midair collision incidents that have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, and have been investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. Air-traffic records now seem to show that this particular near-miss incident happened because a radar controller, who was part of the team handling the American Airlines plane, was distracted.

The American Airlines plane had been instructed to climb to 22,000 feet, and when the data controller realized that the two planes were on a collision path, he asked the radar controller to halt the plane at 20,000 feet. However, the radar controller was distracted by new information coming in about another flight. He did not heed the message. The American Airlines continued to climb until its cockpit warning system kicked in, and the pilot was able to halt in time. The possible consequences, if the American Airlines plane had not stopped in time, don't bear thinking about.

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