According to The Aviation Herald, there was an incident between Air France and ITA Airways at JFK.

Air France & ITA JFK ground incident basics

The incident happened at New York's JFK Airport. It involves.

  • A 21-year-old Air France Boeing 777-200 with the registration code F-GSPQ; this plane had just arrived from Paris, performing flight AF8
  • A 10-year-old ITA Airways Airbus A330-200 with the registration code EI-EJL; this plane was departing for Rome, performing flight AZ611

The incident was first reported when an Air France pilot contacted JFK ground controllers and said there was an Alitalia plane behind them that hit their plane.

There was confusion between the Air France pilot and controllers because the plane was being referred to as "Alitalia", and there was also confusion over where the Air France plane was parked.

The JFK tower tells the Air France pilot to stop the takeoff from Alitalia because they might have damaged the plane. At this point JFK tower contacts the ITA pilots, saying that another aircraft on the ground currently, Air France, said that you hit them or something, did you experience any damage to the aircraft? The pilot of the ITA replied with a negative word.

Below, you can listen to the entire communication.

The Air France plane is at JFK six days later. The flights to Rome were on time. The plane was on the ground in Rome for a couple of days.

What makes this incident interesting

A lot of things make this incident confusing.

  • It’s of course possible that one plane sustained more serious damage than the other, and I know some pilots even report that it’s possible to have an incident on the ground without noticing it, especially at low speeds
  • Looking at flight tracking software, the ITA A330 was waiting for takeoff for over 30 minutes before it was time for takeoff, yet the ITA pilots were only made aware of this incident after the plane was airborne
  • While it’s in theory possible that ITA pilots performed an inspection of the incident and were available, the timeline just doesn’t make sense, based on the arrival time of the Air France jet and the departure time of the ITA jet
  • If the ITA pilots weren’t aware of the incident and were only informed after takeoff, it seems reckless to continue a transatlantic flight, rather than to return to New York for the plane to be inspected
  • It’s odd how authoritatively the ITA pilot claims there was no damage to the aircraft; it’s not clear if that’s simply because they had no clue there was an incident, or if it’s because they are suggesting an inspection was performed to assess damage

Bottom line

There was a ground collision at JFK. The pilots of the ITA decided to continue their flight even though they were aware of the situation. It is difficult to know what to think about this.

In the past few months, there have been dramas for Air France and ITA on JFK routes, with pilots falling asleep on a New York to Rome flight, and Air France pilots losing control of the plane on a New York to Paris flight.

What do you think of this event?

There is a tip to Benedict.