CAL cleared in near-miss incident

| 26/08/2008

(CNS): Cayman Airways Limited (CAL) say that a report by the US National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB) into an incident on 5 July involving a CAL jet at JFK International Airport supports what was previously stated by CAL, in that its pilots did everything according to procedure.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines a near midair collision as an incident in which aircraft come within less than 500 feet of each other or a report is received from a pilot or a flight crewmember stating that a collision hazard existed between two or more aircrafts. The report of the NTSB states this incident “did not meet this criterion and the flight crews did not submit NMAC reports.”

Air traffic controllers said at the time the planes came within 100 feet vertically and there was no observable distance horizontally between them, and air traffic recording of the incident the controller asks one pilot to make a hard left, the other a hard right to avoid a collision.

Barrett Byrnes, National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman, said Cayman Airways Flight 792 pulled up at the last minute instead of landing and just missed Chile Flight 533. Byrnes said, “To have 100 feet of separation and no lateral separation – its a very dangerous procedure."

At the time, the Cayman flight was executing a routine "go around" — an aborted landing, usually ordered by the control tower during periods of heavy congestion — while the Chilean plane was departing from a nearby runway.

According to CAL, their jet was on the VOR approach to runway 22L (the proper track to the airport) and in the correct geographical location to land. At this point the controllers have the sole responsibility for separation.

Charles Clifford, Minister responsible for the national airline, stated in the CAL release, “Now that the NTSB has concluded its investigation I feel it appropriate to publicly comment on the incident. I am pleased the official report is supportive of Cayman Airways and the actions of our crew. The pilots and staff at CAL have provided professional service to these islands for 40 years and safety remains their top priority. I am happy that this matter is now closed.”


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