A New York Air Traffic Controller yelled at Lufthansa: “Cancel takeoff! Cancel takeoff plans!”
A Lufthansa Airbus A340-600, registration D-AIHM, performing flight LH-411 from New York JFK, NY (USA) to Munich (Germany), was cleared for takeoff from JFK’s runway 22R at approximately 18:52L (22:52Z), and the next aircraft in sequence had been cleared to line-up on runway 22R, when the tower controller, highy agitated, called, “CANCEL TAKEOFF CLEARANCE,” at approximately 18:53L; Lufthansa 411 reported rejecting takeoff. The airplane slowed safely from high speed. Another crew on frequency commented that was very close. The Airbus A340 vacated the runway at taxiway H. The crew reported hot brakes and had the brakes checked out by emergency services.
At the same time, an Egyptair Boeing 777-300, registration SU-GDR, performing flight MS-986 from New York JFK, NY (USA) to Cairo (Egypt), was in contact with ground control taxiing for departure out of terminal 4 and had been instructed to turn left onto taxiway B, hold short of D. The crew, however, missed the turn onto taxiway B and instead turned onto runway 22R at taxiway J. Subsequently, ground control calmly instructed the aircraft to turn back onto J and turn right onto B, then changed plan and had the airplane taxi up runway 04R, turn onto taxiway H, and join taxiway B.
The Lufthansa A340 was able to depart again about 2 hours later and reached Munich with a delay of 1:45 hours. The Egyptair B777 departed New York about 75 minutes later and reached Cairo with a delay of 40 minutes.
LiveATC.net has the recordings, which has the Lufthansa pilot saying, “Lufthansa 411 heavy is rejecting takeoff,” and the controller tells other planes, “All traffic is stopped right now.”[youtube:6ojT7hPfsiM]
How did this happen? Apparently the EgyptAir plane made a wrong turn onto a runway: “The error occurred just as the Munich-bound Lufthansa flight was approaching full lift-off speed of 180 mph less than a mile away.”
Stunned pilots who witnessed the near tragedy as they circled the airport let out sighs of relief that no one was killed.
“Those two were coming together,” radioed one unidentified pilot.
“That was quite a show. I thought it was going to be a short career,” a Virgin America pilot arriving from Los Angeles radioed in moments later.
If the two planes had collided, it could easily have turned into a catastrophic calamity – the Lufthansa plane was carrying 286 passengers and the EgyptAir flight can carry up to 346.
After screeching to a halt, the Lufthansa flight crew requested maintenance crews come and check their overheated brakes.
“Maybe we have hot brakes right now. Maybe we take a minute,” a flight crew member radioed to the tower.
The planes took off later. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating the incident.