The Federal Aviation Administration says two planes had a near miss while flying over New York last Thursday, and they're now investigating why the aircrafts were flying with such little distance between them.
At about 2:30 p.m. on June 13th, a Delta Boeing 747 bound for JFK passed a Shuttle America Embraer E170 that had just taken off from LaGuardia. But the planes passed each other with only a half-mile of horizontal distance and 200 feet vertical distance between them; the FAA requires planes to stay at least three miles horizontally and 1,000 feet vertically apart. A spokesperson said in a statement that the planes were turning away from each other when they "lost the required separation" while flying about 2,000 feet above Queens.
Both flights landed safely—the Shuttle America flight was on its way to Jacksonville, Florida while the Delta flight was coming in from Tokyo, Japan. According to Justin Rabinowitz, the editor of NYCAviation.com, the Delta flight was set to land at JFK but had to reroute thanks to a go-around by a landing plane ahead. The plane was instructed to turn right, but, "Delta 747s are not the most nimble aircraft in the sky. Turns take time for this aircraft." Rabinowitz explains. "At this moment, the two aircraft were at virtually the same altitude, headed for each other."
But the planes managed to avoid a crash, and Rabinowitz notes that, "At all times during this unusual event, all parties involved acted professionally and handled the challenge quite well." It's unclear whether any of the passengers onboard the planes knew of the near-miss. A Delta 747 can hold 376 passengers, and the Shuttle America jet could hold up to 69 people.