Watch CBS News

Passenger on plane in near collision on JFK runway speaks out: "You could feel a jolt"

Passenger on plane that nearly collided on JFK runway speaks out
Passenger on plane that nearly collided on JFK runway speaks out 02:09

NEW YORK -- Federal investigators are looking into a close call between two planes on the runway at Kennedy Airport.

Officials said a London-bound American Airlines plane crossed a runway at JFK where a Delta plane was accelerating to take off for the Dominican Republic on Friday. 

The Delta pilot slammed on the brakes, narrowly missing the American 777, which the FAA said was just 1,000 feet away.

It was a wrong turn that could've had deadly consequences. 

"The last clearance, we were given, we were cleared to cross, is that correct?" said a pilot in audio from air traffic control. 

"I guess we'll listen to the tapes, but you were supposed to depart runway 4 left. You are currently holding short of 3-1 left," replied air traffic control. 

NTSB investigating cause of near collision between planes on JFK runway 02:35

"I didn't know what was going to happen, because this was not supposed to happen. I knew that this was not normal," said Brian Healy, who on the Delta flight with his husband. "You could feel a jolt as the brakes activated. I would say there was audible reactions from passengers in the cabin, some gasps." 

"Any time you have a runway incursion like this, there's a potential for very bad things to happen," said Robert Sumwalt, former chair of the NTSB, the federal agency leading the investigation.  

"The NTSB is going to be wanting to understand what happened, why did this happen. Was there a distraction in the cockpit of the American flight? Was there misunderstanding as to the air traffic control clearance?" said Sumwalt. 

"You have as many systems as possible and technology and all this stuff, but it comes down to human beings," said Healy. "It was a near miss, but it was a miss. That's what I'm grateful for."

While American Airlines declined to comment, Delta Air Lines said, "Safety is our number one priority and we will work with investigators."

Healy and his husband Dan rescheduled their Caribbean vacation for this weekend. 

NTSB investigators said it will likely take more than a year to figure out exactly what happened. No one on board either plane was hurt. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.