On January 13, an American Airlines Boeing 777 headed to London taxied on the wrong runway as a Delta 737 began its take off roll. This was nearly a disaster of epic proportions, as the American jet crossed right in front of Delta, and the Delta plane hit the brakes.
The Delta flight stopped less than 1000 feet from where it would have intersected with American’s plane. The transatlantic 777 didn’t follow air traffic control instructions. It was told whom to call to report the incident, and half an hour later took off for Heathrow airport.
— Casey Wade (@CaseWade) January 14, 2023
Given the potential calamity that was narrowly avoided, there’s a search for answers. How could that American plane have found itself taxiing on the wrong runway in front of another plane – that almost slammed into it? There’s also a lot of finger pointing.
It nearly caused a disaster. And now the Allied Pilots Association is running interference in the media. Ted Reed writes with the union narrative for Forbes.
- The American Airlines pilots union has been saying they’ve been warning about safety because of new procedures they say they haven’t been trained on yet.
- And Reed says the pilots continued to fly to London – a questionable move, given that they could have been easily shaken by the incident, and perhaps in no condition to fly, plus this likely overwrote the conversations around the incursion from the voice recorder – because they didn’t know the seriousness of what had happened. (They did not operate a flight back to the U.S. two days later, however.)
One Mile at a Time reports these narratives though correctly adds “this doesn’t address why the (experienced) captain taxied the plane to the wrong runway.” And that makes the rest of Ted Reed’s piece basically irrelevant.
The Ted Reed piece articulates the ‘cya’ pilots union narrative and a poor excuse for the incident.
- There is zero indication the ‘new procedures’ had anything to do with this incident. Notice that when the union promotes these as a problem they never specify the particulars, for instance the first officer announcing “flight attendants, prepare for takeoff” is not what caused this. (The union’s previous criticism of ‘changes in procedures’ have been about asking for supplemental in-person training in exchange for overtime pay.)
- There were 3 777 pilots on board, none of them noticed they were going the wrong way.
- The cockpit was informed of a “possible pilot deviation.” They spent half an hour on the ground after the incursion. If they still didn’t know what happened by then that is worse not better.
APA is pushing ‘everybody’s fault but the pilots’ narrative in TV appearances as well, but it does not hold.
APA continues to push this false narrative… pic.twitter.com/Vqip7C8tF0
— Ross Feinstein (@RossFeinstein) January 21, 2023
Strong kudos are due both to the air traffic controller who called off the Delta 737 and to the pilots of that plane who managed to abort their takeoff and stop the aircraft before it crossed runway 31L where the Boeing widebody passed in front of it.