Human Factors Led to Midair Near Miss

Air traffic controllers’ erroneous directions caused the near collision of an Air Force C-17 and an American Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 250 passengers in the skies near New York City last January, reports Reuters. Controllers at the New York air traffic control center mistakenly vectored the two aircraft to converge at the same point roughly 90 miles southeast of New York’s JFK airport on the night of Jan. 20, 2011, according to the news service’s Aug. 7 report. It cites the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board’s incident investigation. The airliner’s collision-avoidance system detected the C-17 descending from a refueling rendezvous. Still, the two aircraft came within less than 2,000 feet of each other while flying at the same altitude, according to NTSB’s incident narrative from Aug, 2. “That guy passed us now and that was not good,” radioed a member of the 777 crew to an air traffic controller. “I understand that and I apologize,” responded the controller. The Air Force crew—flying formation with a second C-17—continued to JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (NTSB factual report)