An Air France Super Jumbo Jet, an Airbus A380, clipped the tail of a much smaller Delta jet on the taxiway at New York’s JFK airport on Monday night. The collision spun the Delta jet, which was stopped at the time, around 90 degrees on the tarmac.
Amazingly no one was injured because of the collision. The smaller plane was Comair Flight 6293, a Delta Connection flight that had arrived only minutes earlier from Boston. Fortunately, the passengers in the Delta jet were still buckled into their seatbelts at the time of the collision.
The smaller plane was a Bombardier CRJ700 regional jet with 62 passengers and four crew members aboard. The Air France jet was a Paris-bound Flight 7 carrying 485 passengers and 25 crew members. The A380 jet can carry as many as 850 passengers depending upon the class configuration.
This collision marks the second time that an Air France A380 jumbo jet has collided with another jet on the ground. The first collision occurred when an A380 hit the wing of an Airbus A330 that was parked at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on October 30, 2010.
The A380 carries a wingspan of 261 feet, and some reports suggest that Air France pilots and air traffic controllers are still getting used to the wingspan of this huge jet. Air France currently owns four Airbus A380’s.
“This wasn’t just two airplanes bumping together. The Air France plane really creamed the regional jet,” claimed Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, an airline industry funded group that promotes global aviation safety. “This is not something that happens every day. This is not normal.”
At 8 pm, the approximate time of the collision, it was dark and rainy. “Both pilots and controllers would have been confronted with (a) sea of flashing lights and reflections which could partly explain why the Air France pilot may not have seen the regional jet,” Voss said.
Ground control at busy JFK airport is one of the most demanding jobs in the nation’s air traffic control system, according to Voss.
“It is extremely complex, highly visual and the workload can become almost superhuman,” he said.
Such a comment suggests that perhaps a change might be necessary for the air traffic controller system if one is concerned about the safety of the air traveling public, since this accident could have been much more serious than it was.