NTSB Probing JFK Wing Clipping Incident

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a wing tip clipping that occurred between an Air France Airbus A380 and a Delta Comair Bombardier CRJ-700 at John F. Kennedy(JFK) Airport in New York. No fatalities or injuries were reported but the incident has since raised questions about runway and ground control safety. Both aircraft were damaged.


On April 11 at 8:25 p.m. EDT, preliminary reports indicate that the left wing tip of Air France flight 7 struck the left horizontal stabilizer of Comair flight 293 while the Comair airplane was taxiing to its gate. There were 485 passengers and 25 crew members onboard the Airbus and 52 passengers and four crew members onboard the CRJ. No injuries were reported on either aircraft, the NTSB reported.


The NTSB said it has requested the fight recorders (cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder) from both aircraft and will review the content of those devices as part of the investigation. Also, the NTSB will review the air traffic control tapes and ground movement radar data (ASDE-X). The damage sustained to both aircraft is still being assessed.


The investigation includes the Federal Aviation Administration, Comair and the Air Line Pilots Association. Also, accredited representatives from the French Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and their advisors from Airbus, Air France and Bombardier Aerospace, are assisting the investigation.


Media reports noted that the much larger Airbus A380 struck the left horizontal stabilizer of the smaller Bombardier CRJ-700 as it taxied past, sending the smaller plane spinning in a circle. Passengers were evacuated and moved to other flights.


Investigators are expected to try to determine if there was a breakdown in communication between the JFK control tower and the pilots of the two aircraft. There is also speculation that the Airbus, the world's largest passenger jet with a wingspan of 262 feet, needs more space to maneuver.


JFK reportedly has a standard 75-foot-wide taxiway, meaning the wings of the A-380 extend over the runway. Others believe that the cause could be attributed to human error.