Feds Investigate Near Midair Collision in NY Airspace

An American Airlines plane and two military aircraft came close to a collison over New York City last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday.

The American Airlines plane, a Boeing 777-200, took off from JFK en route to San Paoulo, Brazil, before it almost collided with two U.S. Air Force C-17s en route to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, the NTSB said in a statement.

The two airliners came within a mile of each other at their closest point, the report said. Airlines typically travel at hundreds of miles per hour and can close that distance within seconds.

The air traffic controllers talking to each aircraft received conflict alerts, and the airliners turned the aircrafts to avoid a collision.  An alert system also helped to direct the American Airlines crew.

According to a Safety Board spokesperson, the investigation will take some months before a final report is issued.

The NTSB has required operators to report near miss incidents since last March.

Concerns over near-miss incidents have increased over the past several years following reports of airliners coming dangerously close to one another. In December, 2009, two planes came within 300 feet of one another while landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

New regulations put into effect March 8, 2010 require notification and reporting of incidents that force operators to take immediate corrective action to avoid a collision, as well as incidents that involve a complete loss of information from more than half of a pilot’s display screens.  

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