Orlando-bound flight in near miss at Regan National Airport; FAA investigating

A near collision on the runway involving a flight headed to Orlando. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said an investigation into the close call at Regan National Airport is underway. 

Authorities said that the JetBlue flight, which was headed to Boston, had nearly collided with a Southwest flight headed to Orlando. It happened after 7:30 on Thursday morning. 

Emily Walsh was on that JetBlue flight. 

"The engines were warming up. We started to go, and then all of a sudden - the pilot slammed on the brakes," said Walsh. 

She was jolted forward. From her window seat, she realized how close she was to danger. 

"I saw out the window the Southwest flight that was about to cross our path. I was like, 'Oh my goodness. I think we almost collided with that plane,'" Walsh said. 

So, how could this happen?

That is what the FAA and NTSB is working to figure out. However, a preliminary report from the FAA states that an air traffic controller cleared the Southwest flight to cross Runway 4. This was at the same time the JetBlue flight was rolling for takeoff. 


On the Air Traffic control audio, you can hear an air traffic control operator yelling, "Southwest flight 2937. Stop!" 

After, you hear the pilot's response, "We stopped. We were cleared to cross the Runway 4."

"Somehow a miscommunication between the two controller," said Captain Shem Malmquist. 

Captain Shem Malmquist says air traffic controllers constantly talk to each other and pilots as they coordinate flights. 

He says Regan National Airport is a tough place to direct traffic because it's busy and because of its layout. 

"The have crossing runways, and they're using both," said Malmquist, "More than an airport that has, say parallel runways such as Orlando." 

Captain Malmquist says he expects the investigation will involve interviewing the pilot, crew, and air traffic controllers to make sure nothing like this happens again. 

"I'm very lucky that it was a near collision and not an actual collision," said Walsh. 

No injuries were reported, and both airlines told FOX 35 News they were working with investigators. 

Concerns about airline safety have been raised recently because of air traffic control worker shortages and fatigue on the job. 

This afternoon, the FAA announced it's updating the rules to extend air traffic controllers' break times to ensure they're rested and alert on the job.