Close Call Between Planes At Logan Airport

BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Newly released video and audio from Boston’s Logan International Airport shows a close call between a taxiing plane and a flight that was taking off. It happened the night before Thanksgiving, a very busy time at Logan.

A quick-thinking air traffic controller is heard urgently telling a JetBlue flight to “hold” just before it entered an active runway where another plane was speeding towards take-off.

Flight 1264 from Austin, Texas landed safely on Nov. 24 with 91 passengers onboard, but while taxiing to the gate the pilot inadvertently took a right instead of turning left, according to JetBlue.

In audio recordings the air traffic controller can be heard saying “JetBlue hold, JetBlue 1264 hold right there. JetBlue 1264, hold, hold!” Ground radar images show the plane stopping just short of the runway where JetBlue 417 was quickly approaching.

Raw Video: Air Traffic Control recordings with ground radar images

“At no time did the flight enter an active runway without clearance from ATC (Air Traffic Control),” JetBlue said in a written statement. “The processes put in place by the airline, the pilots and ATC are designed to prevent and mitigate inadvertent errors. The system worked.”

“That was a save for an air traffic controller and it was a good one,” said Matt McCluskey, president of the air traffic controllers union for the Boston tower.   The controller who made that save was unavailable for comment. His union says he has 32 years experience, 20 of which he has spent at Logan.

“I think that the controller was on top of his job. He was doing what he needed to do and when he came out and said it, he stopped talking to another aircraft to come back to that one and it was just an air traffic controller on top of his game. He possibly averted a possible collision or something on that runway,” said McCluskey. 

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

“That air traffic controlled was looking out that window, saw the aircraft turn the wrong way on the runway and he stopped him prior to that active runway with the departing aircraft,” said McCluskey. “The human factor was there and without that human factor, with a computer telling you to do that or something, I don’t think it would have had the same outcome.”

McCluskey said in all likelihood the passengers aboard JetBlue 1264 had no idea their flight had turned the wrong way or what the air traffic controller did to stop it.  But he said the controller made an “excellent save.”

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said his agency has not done any analysis to determine how far apart the planes were from each other.  After the FAA’s investigation is complete, it would have several options: require re-training, seek suspension or revocation of the pilot’s license or take no action.

The controller who told flight 1264 to hold lives in New Hampshire and is within a year from retirement. His union is recommending him for a safety award.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • cynic

    When I type a comment I click submit and it dissappears….Is this some thing that is going to be corrected or is it just that way things are?

  • Ellen

    Think I’ll be taking the train from now on.

  • emom


    • litguy

      WHATS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? DON’T THEY KNOW THEIR AND THERE?! Also I’d like to see you do a better job. These guys are under a LOT of stress and dumb comments like yours are…well just dumb.

  • emom


    • elronhoover

      if only emom knew her “there” from her “their”, and her “dislexis” from her “dyslexic”

      • cynic

        Fortunately she’s not a Pilot.

    • cynic

      The words no one wants to hear……”Good evening Ladies And Gentlemen…This Is EMOM,I will be your Pilot…….”

  • Darisse Smith

    Pilots are human. They make mistakes every once in a while. That’s why we have these back up systems, such as Air Traffic Controllers watching out for everything. This controller was on the ball and did his job well.

  • cynic

    Controller…” You are cleared to land on the East/West runway”

    Plane # 2…”You have me Cleared to land on the West/East Runway”.

    Controler…”Y’all be carefull no ya’hear”

  • Bovine

    The controller did not specifically tell the pilot to turn left or right. He only said to “taxi via [runway] 22-Right and Charlie into the ramp”. The pilot had to be familiar with the taxi diagram to know that if starting on Quebec, he had to turn left on 22-Right to get to Charlie. Less ambiguous instructions could have been “left on 22-Right, right on Charlie, to the ramp”

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  • tony

    rwy 22 right only runs in one direction, great save by the controller. Pilots are under payed and overworked and mistakes will happen in that environment.

  • Jeremy W

    Looks to me from the video that they stopped even before the controller told them to hold. I wonder if the first officer was on his game looking out the window and saw the departing aircraft. I’d like to think that both captain and first officer were paying attention while taxiing. I’m a private pilot, and always stay as alert as if I’m solo even when not pilot in command when flying with friends. Two sets of eyes are always better than one.

    • Mike

      That’s part of good CRM. Both heads out the window and clearing each taxiway and runway before crossing. I got my PPL in April and my CFI always tought that a great way to do that is by saying out loud that the left and right are clear so everyone is on the same page BEFORE crossing them. Hopefully the pilots get out of this situation OK.

  • standby mode

    Pilots make mistakes, atco´s make mistakes, machines fail. That´s why we have to put all together and be alert. A pilot saved himself from an accident once here just watching an aircraft rolling on the same rwy he was about to cross. Atco failed forgetting that he had cleared the A330 to take off, what took a long time to happen. ground system worked well and a sound warning went on. Fortunetely the crossing airplane had not reached the active rwy, getting it just a little bit.

  • Mike Ronan

    Why on earth would you risk your life taking a train???? Have you any idea how dangerous rail travel is compared to flying? There are 2 or 3 major derailments every day in north america…. they basically go un-noticed by the media.

    Here is a link… this is a very long list of accidents 2000-2009.
    Go to :

  • dan

    Bovine, your comment “The pilot had to be familiar with the taxi diagram” is the key to this entire incident, and getting familiar takes place BEFORE getting any taxi instructions.

  • Conmanflyer(a pilot)

    Ok, heres the deal, Everyone, The pilot just landed on that runway, he was going to stop even before he got to that runway. the instructions to taxi on 22R however woulda meant him to take a left because 22R runs from right to left on the screen. He shoulda turned left to taxi on that runway. ok, back to the part where he was going to stop- Unless a pilot is cleared to taxi on an active runway he WILL STOP before ever crossing onto that runway. He must be cleared by a controller, so he woulda have stopped.

  • jose

    what happened to the pilots visual ? he was turning away from the terminal after just landing, the controller said 22 right.

    • Conmanflyer(a pilot)

      look at the two planes to the left of the runway intersects- often planes hafta go around other planes and obviously they cannot just back up- so they could possibly take a longer route

  • Flaps20

    NOTAM to Logan Ground: It’s Wait, not Hold!

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