Source: Planes in near-miss over NYC were within half-mile

With the shuttered Terminal 3 in the background, With the shuttered Terminal 3 in the background, a Delta customer waits for a flight at JFK's and Delta's Terminal 4. (June 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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Two planes came within half a mile of each other in a near-miss over Queens last week, an incident being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration, a source said Friday.

The planes should have been 3 miles apart in that airspace, the source said. They also were separated by 200 feet of lateral or vertical space, instead of the 1,000-foot standard for that area, the source said.

The FAA said in a statement that a Delta Air Lines Boeing 747 arriving at Kennedy Airport came close to a Shuttle America Embraer E170 departing from LaGuardia Airport around 3:45 p.m. June 13.

The aircraft were already "turning away from each other at the point where they lost the required separation," the FAA said.

The Boeing 747 had aborted its landing at Kennedy Airport and was regaining altitude when it got near the Embraer E170 taking off from LaGuardia, the source said.

The website nycaviation.com said it had reviewed flight records and cockpit conversations of the incident, and it appeared that the Delta Boeing 747 aborted its landing just seconds after another aircraft in front of it, an American Airlines Boeing 737 approaching a different runway, aborted its landing.

No reason was given for the aborted landings, but nycaviation.com said winds at the time "were reported to be quite strong," with gusts up to 28 knots, or 32 mph.

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Air traffic controllers attempted to keep the required separation between the two planes as they turned right toward Long Island, while also keeping the two away from other planes taking off from LaGuardia and turning left over Long Island, the website said.

"At this moment, the two aircraft were at virtually the same altitude, headed for each other," the website said. "However, all parties involved knew of the conflicting traffic, and both aircraft were actively turning to avoid each other. Delta turning to the right, Shuttle America to the left."

Calls to all three airlines Friday were not returned.

With Keith Herbert

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