Delta 737 Hits American Airlines 757 at JFK

Aug 16, 2017

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Tuesday night around 7:10pm at New York’s JFK airport, the wingtip of Delta flight 2503 bound for Seattle struck American Airlines flight 290 bound for Dublin, while both planes were on the ground. The collision, which damaged both aircraft but was far harder on the AA jet, resulted in no injuries to passengers or crew onboard. American Airlines said 121 passengers and nine crew were on board.

While the official FAA accident report will tell us exactly what happened, initial reports put both aircraft on an active taxiway when the collision occurred. According to air traffic control audio, the Delta 737-800 was in motion following ATC instructions while the American Airlines 757-200 (registration N175AN) was stationary, waiting for takeoff clearance.

On the audio from ATC, the American Airlines pilot — sounding understandably frustrated — reported:

The Delta at our three o’clock we are pretty sure his winglet ran into us as he passed behind us. We had a big jolt, and he has a big scrape on his left wing.

(We confirmed with American Airlines that the pilots didn’t get out and exchange insurance information at the scene of the accident.)

The collision tore off a significant amount of the right horizontal stabilizer of the tail of the AA plane, while the wingtip of the Delta aircraft was damaged but remained intact. Replacement aircraft were required for both flights. The debris on the ground from the accident required ground crews to clear up before normal operations could continue. In the meantime, some JFK departures were directed to take off using less than the full runway. (Which is perfectly safe.)

Thankfully the AA business class passengers still got lie-flat seats on the new aircraft. Image courtesy of American Airlines.
The AA business class passengers still got lie-flat seats on the new aircraft. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

According to statements from AA, the airline was able to swap in another Boeing 757-200 (registration N173AN) for the flight to Dublin, which departed at 1:10am Eastern — more than six hours after the originally scheduled departure. Passengers were provided food and drinks during the delay. Both of these 757-200 aircraft have already been retrofit with lie-flat business class seats, so business class passengers got the same product on the new jet.

After confirming airworthiness, American Airlines expects to ferry the aircraft to Tulsa for repairs. There’s no estimate yet of the cost.

We have reached out to Delta for comment, but our request wasn’t immediately answered.

Update 2:52pm: Delta responded with the following comment: “While on taxi, the wing of flight 2503 came in contact with the tail of another aircraft. The flight returned to the gate and passengers deplaned normally. We’re sorry for the inconvenience to customers.”

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

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