Southwest 737-8 narrowly avoids runway collision with departing JetBlue E-190

JetBlue Embraer E-190
Lukas Wunderlich / Shutterstock

A runway collision between a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 and a JetBlue Airways Embraer E-190 has been narrowly avoided at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in the United States (US). 

The JetBlue Embraer E-190 had been cleared to depart to Boston Logan Airport (BOS) by air traffic control at around 07:40 am local time on April 18, 2024.  

The JetBlue E-190 initiated its takeoff on Runway 4. However, the flight crew were unaware that air traffic control had also just given the go-ahead to the Southwest Boeing 737 MAX 8 to taxi across the same runway.  

As the JetBlue aircraft began to accelerate for takeoff, air traffic control realized the seriousness of the events unfolding on the runway and quickly radioed through to both aircraft.  

‘Stop, stop’

In a recording of the interaction published online, air traffic controllers can be heard yelling “stop, stop” at both sets of pilots.  

The Southwest pilot can then clearly be heard replying, “We stopped. We were cleared to cross Runway 4”.  

The JetBlue pilot can also be heard confirming that the Embraer had stopped, and takeoff aborted.  

In a statement to CNN, the FAA confirmed it is investigating the incident and acknowledged that both planes were directed onto the same runway. 

“An air traffic controller instructed Southwest Airlines Flight 2937 to cross Runway 4 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport while JetBlue Flight 1554 was starting its takeoff roll on the same runway,” the FAA said. 

According to CNN, and based on data, the two planes were around 400 feet apart when they stopped, and the Southwest jet had passed the hold line.  

In a statement from both airlines, JetBlue said that its aircraft “aborted take-off due to another aircraft attempting to cross the runway,” while Southwest said it was “working with the FAA to fully understand the circumstances”. 

Soon after the incident, both aircraft were able to depart Washington.  

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