Probing near-miss at Teterboro

June 25, 2007

Federal aviation officials are investigating how two corporate planes preparing for takeoff Sunday came within approximately 50 feet of colliding at an intersection of runways at Teterboro Airport in Bergen County.

None of the three people on the two planes was injured, but one of the propeller planes sustained two blown tires as the pilot hit the brakes hard to avoid a crash, authorities said.

Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the incident is being reviewed as a possible mistake by an air traffic controller. The National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating.

According to the NTSB's preliminary information, the incident was described as "a runway incursion" and occurred at about 1:20 p.m. Sunday.

The two planes involved were an Avantair Piaggio 180, a jet-powered, turbo-prop aircraft that can carry as many as seven passengers plus crew, and a Ciruss SR22, a smaller propeller craft, according to the NTSB. It was not immediately clear how many people were on each plane.

In its preliminary report, the NTSB said the Avantair was cleared for takeoff on Runway 24 while the Cirrus SR22 was given permission to depart on Runway 19. A controller in the tower cleared the planes within a minute of each other, the NTSB said.

The Avantair pilot saw the Cirrus "on departure roll and applied maximum braking, experienced two blown tires on the main gear" as the Cirrus "rolled past, through the intersection 50 feet in front," according to the NTSB. The Avantair stopped in the intersection, the report said.

"The tower controller stated that he did not see the incursion, so he did not cancel either takeoff clearance," the NTSB report said.

NTSB officials could not be reached for comment late yesterday, but the report said the information was preliminary and "subject to change, and may contain errors."

Efforts to obtain comment from the companies to which the planes are registered also were unsuccessful late yesterday.

Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Teterboro, said the Avantair had to be towed from the runway because of the blown tires caused by "an aborted takeoff."

The Cirrus completed its takeoff.

According to airport records, the Avantair was headed to Baltimore. Officials were unsure about the destination of the smaller plane.

Sunday's incident at Teterboro was the latest in a series of close calls at the region's airports within the past six weeks, according to aviation records.

Two incidents involved planes flying into Newark Liberty International Airport, while the others involved aircraft departing or arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., and another local airport in White Plains, N.Y.

On May 21, Continental Airlines Flight 466, a Boeing 757 with 216 people aboard, was heading into Newark when its crew "reported coming into conflict with an unidentified aircraft five miles southeast of Robbinsville" at 6,000 feet, according to a report by the FAA. The report said the two aircraft were within 200 feet vertically and 1.5 miles horizontally of each other.

The FAA lists a close call as planes coming within 500 feet of each other.

On May 5, Continental Express Flight 2009, an Embraer 145, was en route to Newark Liberty when it "reported coming into conflict with a glider 20 miles north of Sparta" at 7,000 feet, according to the FAA. The jet and glider's closest distance was 300 feet vertically and zero miles horizontally, the report said.

Authorities also are still investigating an incident at Newark on Oct. 28, when Continental Airlines Flight 1883 from Orlando, with 157 passengers aboard, landed on a taxiway instead of a runway.

Staff writer Ted Sherman contributed to this report.

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