New York Airport Jet Clips Smaller Plane's Tail at JFK Monday Night

A jumbo jet's wing clipped a commuter jet's tail, lifting and turning it.

April 12, 2011, 7:21 AM

April 12, 2011— -- A wing on one of the world's largest commercial jetliners clipped the tail of a small regional carrier while taxing at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City Monday night, lifting up and spinning the smaller plane a full 90 degrees, officials said.

Video of the incident showed an Air France A380 passing behind a much smaller regional plane. The jumbo jet's left wing clipped the Comair Delta Connection's tail, turning the smaller plane counterclockwise.

The entire incident took three seconds. There were no injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News the regional plane's tail was hanging over the taxiway when it was clipped at 8:08 p.m.

The Air France jet bound for Paris was taxing from the terminal to the runway for takeoff. The Comair Delta Connection had just landed from Boston with 66 passengers and crew members aboard. There were 495 passengers and 25 crew members onboard the Air France flight.

The smaller plane was heading toward the gate. Passengers aboard the Delta plane scrambled down the jet's stairs.

"The plane shaked very, very violently and the next thing we knew we were told to hurry out of the plane," passenger Sebastian Pinel said. "It's only when we walked out that we realized what had happened that the tail of our plane had been hit by another plane."

The incident played out in radio transmissions between the pilots and air traffic controllers.

"Roll emergency trucks," the pilot of the Comair flight radioed. "We've been hit by -- ugh -- Air France."

The Airbus A380 has been flying for more than three years. The double-decker plane has a wingspan of 260 feet; so large that few airports can accommodate it.

John Nance, aviation expert and ABC News contributor, said this sort of accident should be impossible.

"At any busy airport, one of the major considerations is that any large airplane like a 747 or an Airbus 380 has to be kept separate from every other airplane," said Nance. "So if there's a problem in NY there's probably problems someplace else and we need to look at this again."

This accident comes on the heels of several high profile incidents involving airplanes and airports.

Latest In a String of Air-related Incidents

Last month the roof of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 tore open midflight, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to ground 80 jets if that model over fears the accident may happen again.

Additionally, air traffic controllers have come under fire for sleeping on the job. One controller's accidental nap on March 23 at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport forced two pilots to land their jets without assistance from the tower.

Air France said in a written statement that the incident caused material damage to both aircraft, which have been grounded.

Passengers have been provided hotel accommodations or transferred onto other Air France or partner airlines' flights, according to the statement. An NTSB investigation is underway.

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