Just days after last week’s near-collision of two planes at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), reports rolled in about another incident at the same New York City airport in which one jet “bumped” into another.
The mishap occurred on Wednesday morning when JetBlue Flight 1603, bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico, struck the tail of another (empty) JetBlue plane that was parked in the gate area.
Flight 1603’s equipment, “came into light contact with a parked unoccupied aircraft during pushback,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement. The airline said that both planes will be temporarily taken out of service.
One of the passengers involved told reporters that the pilot had announced over the intercom that their aircraft had “bumped into the plane behind us”, but that he didn’t actually feel anything happen.
Flight 1603 was sent back to its gate and removed from service. Its passengers and crew were transferred to a different aircraft, after which the flight took off at 7:50 a.m., rather than its originally scheduled departure time of 6:00 a.m.
Regulatory officials said that no one was injured as a result of the run-in, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed in a statement that the agency would investigate the incident.
“JetBlue Flight 1603 struck the tail of a parked JetBlue aircraft while pushing back from the gate around 7 a.m. at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The flight was going to Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Both aircraft were Airbus 320,” the FAA explained in its statement.
Retired pilot Jay Tristani told local news outlet WABC, “When you have bumping aircraft on the ground, that’s not critical unless you’re bumping into a fuel truck,” but added, “If you’re talking about runway incursions, that’s extremely serious.”
Dr. Michael Canders, director of Farmingdale State College’s aviation department, told NBC New York, that he believes FAA investigators will most likely conduct a top-to-bottom analysis of airport operations and scrutinize every touchpoint of takeoff.
“You look at all mistakes because it could be indicative of other things, other problems,” said Canders. He added, “I don’t like to speculate, but it sounds like human error, which is a typical outcome or typical probable cause for these types of incidents.”
For the latest travel news, updates and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.