Arriving Jet Nearly Lands on Occupied Runway at JFK

Pilots notified tower of the problem first.

JFK Airport
Quick action by air traffic controllers at JFK International Airport stopped a Volaris Airlines A319 from landing over the top of a Delta Connection ERJ170.Wikimedia Commons

Quick action on the part of pilots and controllers Tuesday at New York’s JFK International Airport prevented a Volaris Airlines A319 from landing over the top of a Delta Connection ERJ170 that had just begun its takeoff roll.

The Airbus, on a visual approach, had been cleared to land on Runway 13 Left at JFK, but instead headed for Runway 13 Right where the Delta jet had just been cleared for takeoff. Another flight crew on the frequency warned the tower the Volaris aircraft was headed for the wrong runway.

Reports indicate the Volaris aircraft was roughly inside of a mile on final for Runway 13 Right at about 300 feet agl, when controllers issued the go-around. The Airbus climbed to 2,000 feet heading east and eventually landed on JFK’s Runway 22 Left without further incident.

(Recording via

Volaris Airlines, based in Mexico City, said in a statement that it would investigate the cause of the error.

This is the third incident this year when the crew of a foreign carrier did not understand what air traffic controllers had asked of them. In October, an Air Canada crew failed to heed controller's instructions to go-around at San Francisco International airport. In July, another Air Canada crew lined up for a taxiway at SFO instead of Runway 28 Right.

(This article originally included an incorrect version of the ATC recording. The correct audio has been added.)