Aviation News

February 22, 2013

Pilot Taxiing at JFK Strikes Lights While on Cell Phone

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Written by: Phil Derner Jr.
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A small charter aircraft taxiing to depart at JFK International Airport received damage after hitting ground lights on Thursday evening, according to information received by NYCAviation.

While taxiing across the active Runway 31R on taxiway Echo, the Swearingen SA226-AT Merlin IV’s propellers struck runway edge lighting. The incident led to partial loss of the propeller blades, and as one might, expect, some flying blade fragments wound up creating some small dents on the aircraft’s fuselage. The runway was closed for two hours as a result.

The pilot is reported to have been operating his cell phone at the same time, leading to a loss of situational awareness. The FAA is investigating the incident.

There were no injuries reported as a result.

This is the second incident involving this same aircraft. According to NTSB records, five years ago this very month, this aircraft veered off the runway at Ankeny Regional Airport (KIKV) in Iowa. After encountering deeper snow than expecting on takeoff roll, the aircraft swerved to the left and struck a snow-bank, heavily damaging the nose gear. There were no injuries.

Side view of the aircraft as it sits at JFK awaiting repair.

Close-up showing damage to both propeller and fuselage.

About the Author

Phil Derner Jr.
Phil Derner founded NYCAviation in 2003. A lifetime aviation enthusiast that grew up across the water from La Guardia Airport, Phil has aviation experience as a Loadmaster, Operations Controller and Flight Dispatcher. He owns and operates NYCAviation and performs duties as an aviation expert through writing, consulting, public speaking and media appearances. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.



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  • YandMand

    Whats the difference to talking on the phone and doing a pre takeoff check list?


  • Your not rolling during preflight.

  • I’m guessing the Franey comment led to a correction. If that’s the case, way to note it with a cross-out like real websites.