Close Call On Boston Runway Thanksgiving Eve

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An air traffic controller who acted fast and kept calm under pressure stopped two planes from colliding on a runway at Boston Logan International Airport on the night before Thanksgiving--one of the busiest travel days of the year.

JetBlue Flight 1264 had just touched town from Austin, Texas and was taxiing to its gate when the pilot inadvertently went the wrong way. Making a right turn instead of a left put the plane dangerously close to an active runway where another plane, JetBlue Flight 417, was about to depart.

Just before the Flight 1264 would have entered the runway, an unnamed air traffic controller with 32 years experience urgently told the plane to "hold" several times. The plane stopped just in time to see JetBlue Flight 417 zoom past.

"JetBlue hold. JetBlue 1264 hold right there. JetBlue 1264 hold! Hold!" said the air traffic controller in audio obtained by Fox 25, a local television station. Ground radar images show just how close the two planes came to running into one another.



Matt McCluskey, president of the Boston air traffic controllers union, said events like this are uncommon and the controller made "a great save."

A statement from JetBlue in response to the incident reads: "At no time did the flight enter an active runway without clearance from ATC. The Captain awaited further instructions from ATC and was subsequently cleared to taxi to the gate. The processes put in place by the airline, the pilots and ATC are designed to prevent and mitigate inadvertent errors. The system worked."

Photo, mrkathika, flickr.

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