The FAA is investigating a close encounter between a Learjet and a JetBlue Embraer 190 at Boston’s Logan International Airport (KBOS) on Monday evening.
The JetBlue Embraer had been cleared to land on Runway 4R, but when a Learjet pulled onto the intersection runway without a clearance and began its takeoff roll, the larger jet initiated a go-around.
According to the FAA, the February 27 event occurred shortly before 7 p.m.
“An air traffic controller instructed the pilot of the Learjet, to line up and wait on Runway 9 while the JetBlue Embraer 190 landed on Runway 4 Right, which intersects Runway 9,” the FAA said in a statement to FLYING magazine. “The Learjet pilot read back the instructions clearly but began a takeoff roll instead. The pilot of the JetBlue aircraft took evasive action and initiated a climbout as the Learjet crossed the intersection.”
The Learjet was not cleared for takeoff.
As part of the investigation, the FAA will determine how close the aircraft came to each other.
According to Flightradar24, an aircraft tracking service, the preliminary analysis puts the aircraft approximately 530 feet apart at their closest proximity. For perspective, that’s about 40 feet short of two Boeing 787-10s lined up nose to tail.
“JetBlue flight 206 landed safely in Boston after our pilots were instructed to perform a go-around by air traffic controllers,” a JetBlue spokesperson said. “Safety is JetBlue’s first priority and our crews are trained to react to situations like this.”
The air carrier added that they are assisting the authorities in the investigation.
The Learjet was operated by Hop-A-Jet, a private charter company. FLYING reached out to them for comment; they had not replied as of press time.
A review of the Farmers Almanac notes the sunset on February 27 in Boston was at 5:32 p.m., with civil twilight ending at 5:59 p.m. Therefore, it was dark when the event took place.
The airport, even in the daylight, is a confusing place to operate from as it has multiple runways and multiple runway intersections. The diagram contains the reminder: “Caution: Be alert to runway crossing clearances. Readback of all runway holding instructions is required.”
The airport diagram of Boston Logan International (KBOS) notes hotspots and a warning: “Caution: Be alert to runway crossing clearances. Readback of all runway holding instructions is required.”
Intersecting Runways, Hotspots
The airport diagram for General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport, known as Boston Logan International Airport, depicts four hotspots. FAA defines “hotspot” as airport locations prone to incursions—or incidents that occur when aircraft, vehicles, or people are incorrectly present in the protected area designated for aircraft to land and take off when another aircraft, vehicle, or person has clearance to be there. These areas are marked with circles and a rectangle with the notation “HS,” to call a pilot’s attention to the increased possibility of an incursion.
Hotspots, which are locations prone to incursions, are marked with circles and a rectangle with the notation “HS.”
Pilots are taught to use extra vigilance when operating in these areas.
However, the location where this event took place—the intersection of Runway 4R and Runway 9—is not marked as a hotspot.
The FAA defines runway incursions as “any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and takeoff of aircraft.”
There are four categories of incursions:
Category A is a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided.
Category B is an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time-critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.
Category C is an incident characterized by ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.
Category D is an incident that meets the definition of runway incursion such as incorrect presence of a single vehicle/person/aircraft on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and takeoff of aircraft but with no immediate safety consequences.
The incursion at Logan is the second incursion at a major U.S. airport involving an air carrier in the last 60 days.
In January there was an incursion at John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK) in New York involving an American Airlines Boeing 777 and a Delta Airlines Boeing 737. The 777 initiated its takeoff roll while the 737 was also on the runway. The 737 pilot slammed on the brakes, coming to a stop approximately 1,000 feet from the 777.
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