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On December 14, 2007, about 0000 eastern standard time, the right winglet of a taxiing Boeing 747-433BCF, B-2477, contacted the rudder of a stationary EMB-190, N184JB, at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, New York. The all-cargo B-747 was operating as Air China flight 1065 from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Anchorage, Alaska, and the EMB-190 was operating as JetBlue flight 5104, a non-revenue positioning flight from Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, Tennessee. The EMB-190 was substantially damaged, and the B-747 received minor damage. No persons on the airplanes or on the ground were injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The B-747 was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 129, and the EMB-190 was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91.
According to JetBlue documents, the EMB-190 departed BNA on December 13, 2007 about 2057, and landed on JFK runway 4R about 2257. The only two occupants were the captain and the first officer. Due to ramp space limitations, the crew could not taxi to their final parking location immediately after landing, and they were instructed by company operations personnel to park temporarily in another location. When they were parked at the first location, the crew was instructed to move the airplane to a second interim location known as Hangar 3. The crew was unfamiliar with the newly assigned location. After receiving further instructions from the company operations personnel, and in coordination with air traffic control, they parked the airplane on the cargo ramp that was situated on the southeast side of taxiway Charlie Bravo (CB) and on the northeast side of Hangar 3, with the airplane facing southeast. Slush and snow covered the ramp and ramp markings. The crew left one engine running in anticipation of moving to the final parking location. After an unspecified time, they started the auxiliary power unit (APU) and shut down the engine. The crew kept the cabin, navigation, beacon and logo lights illuminated.
About 0000, the EMB-190 crew felt a "violent impact," and noticed a B-747 taxiing northeast behind them on taxiway CB. The EMB-190 crew surmised that their airplane had been struck by the B-747, and they informed their company of the collision. After the B-747 passed, they observed it stop on the taxiway, connect to a tug, and then get towed further along the taxiway. JetBlue maintenance personnel responding to the notification confirmed that there had been a collision; the right winglet of the B-747 remained embedded in the rudder of the EMB-190.
According to the right-seat captain of the B-747, they landed uneventfully about 2346, and while taxiing on taxiway CB, they noticed the EMB-190 "very close to the taxiway." The captain assigned a third flight crewmember to observe the right wing while the captain and first officer attempted to taxi past the EMB-190. The third crewmember told the operating crew that the B-747 had cleared the EMB-190, and the airplane continued to its assigned parking location. The captain reported that they shut down the airplane in its parking spot about 0017. After shutdown, the B-747 crew was notified by JetBlue ground personnel that the B-747 had struck the EMB-190.
DAMAGE TO AIRPLANES
The EMB-190 rudder contained a cut at the 1/3 span location which was approximately 3 inches wide, and which extended almost completely chordwise through the rudder. A small portion of the vertical stabilizer skin, an access panel, and a web were bent and buckled.
The majority of the right winglet of the B-747 was fracture-separated from the wing, and remained lodged in the EMB rudder.
According to Air China documentation, the B-747 operating flight crew consisted of two captains and a first officer. The two captains held Air Transport Pilot Licenses issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, People's Republic of China. No other details were provided by Air China.
The EMB-190 captain held commercial and airline transport rating certificates, and his type ratings included the EMB-190. His most recent first-class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate was issued in September 2007, and his most recent flight review was completed in November 2007. He reported 8,300 total hours of flight experience, including 889 in the EMB-190.
EMB-190 First Officer
The EMB-190 first officer held commercial and airline transport rating certificates, and his type ratings included the EMB-190. His most recent second-class FAA medical certificate was issued in January 2007, and his most recent flight review was completed in November 2007. He reported 707 total hours of flight experience in the EMB-190, and FAA records indicated that he had approximately 5,000 total hours of flight experience.
The JetBlue EMB-190 Flight Crew Operating Manual indicated that the airplane was 118 feet and 11 inches in length. The impact point on the rudder was approximately 8 feet forward of the aft end of the fuselage, and approximately 100 feet aft of the cockpit. The wingspan of the B-747 was 213 feet, and the winglets were approximately 150 feet aft of the cockpit. The B-747 wing main landing gear wheelbase was 36 feet.
According to JFK recorded weather information, on the day of the accident, precipitation was first reported in the 1053 observation, and was reported in the eight subsequent observations, the last of which was at 1916. The precipitation was variously reported as light ice pellets, light snow pellets, heavy rain, and light freezing rain.
The 2351 surface weather observation at JFK reported winds from 020 degrees at 4 knots, 9 miles visibility, overcast skies at 800 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point minus 2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.05 inches of mercury.
Despite requests, no communications between the airplanes and the ground controllers were provided to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The collision occurred while the B-747 was on taxiway CB, which was 75 feet wide. The EMB-190 was parked mostly, but not completely, in the "non-movement area" ramp southeast of taxiway CB. "Non-movement areas" are portions of the airport that are not subject to air traffic control. Paragraph 38d of FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5340-1J specified that non-movement area demarcation markings consist of two 6-inch wide yellow lines, one solid and one dashed, which are separated by 6 inches. The AC also "strongly encouraged" the doubling of the line widths and spacing to 12 inches "at locations having difficulty discerning the location of the movement area." The subject non-movement demarcation line was located approximately 140 feet southeast of the taxiway CB centerline. The subject demarcation lines were 12 inches wide, and spaced 12 inches apart.
Photographs indicate that the only lighting for the ramp in the vicinity of the EMB-190 was mounted on the northeast wall of Hangar 3, and projected across the ramp to the northeast. The light location and EMB-190 orientation combined to place the lights on the right side of the EMB-190, with the light projecting right to left, perpendicular to the airplane's longitudinal axis.
The collision location was located approximately 6,300 feet from the air traffic control tower, and a controller's view of the EMB-190 would have been completely, or nearly completely, obscured by buildings.
Although both airplanes were equipped with flight data and cockpit voice recorders, no recorded data was recovered for this investigation. Initially, the recorders were removed from the EMB-190, but since the airplane was parked at the time of the event, it was recognized that no useful data would be obtained, and the unexamined recorders were released back to the custody of the airline. The Safety Board had requested that the B-747 cockpit and flight data recorders be removed and secured, but was later advised that the B-747 had departed JFK with the recorders still in the airplane.
JetBlue Airport Briefing Guide and Hangar 3
According to JetBlue, during their taxi-in, the flight crew was in communication with the operator's Ramp Operations Control, and the flight crew requested a marshalling crew for assistance with parking near Hangar 3. They were told that a marshalling crew would be sent out as soon as one was available, but that they could expect a significant delay because all ground crews were otherwise occupied at the time. The weather observations indicated that freezing precipitation had fallen for several hours, and photographs taken several hours after the event showed that the ramp surface was partially obscured by frozen precipitation.
According to Jet Blue, all JetBlue pilots were provided with laptop computers that contained all the company manuals. One of these manuals was the Airport Briefing Guide (ABG), which provided airport-specific information. The ABG current at the time of the accident did not provide flight crews with any information about the location where the collision eventually occurred.
Subsequent to the accident, JetBlue revised the ABG to provide flight crews with information about operations and parking in the vicinity of Hangar 3. Page 4 of the January 22, 2008 version of the ABG for JFK designated the accident location parking area as one that was to be used for overnight or "irregular operations" parking. The ABG guidance for parking in this area stated that the pilots should "...follow marshalling instructions. Parking locations and orientation will be highly variable." The ABG information for this parking area also contained a note that stated "Caution: Rough Ramp and Potential Ice." This note indicated that this area was not subject to regular or frequent clearing during periods of inclement weather.
B747 Flight Crew Statement
According to a statement provided by one captain on the B-747, the B-747 operating crew consisted of two captains and a first officer. The right seat captain "was responsible for the right side observation of the JetBlue aircraft," while the left seat captain "and the first officer were responsible for the taxi along the CB taxiway centerline and searching for the ground commander." During its traverse of taxiway CB, the B-747 crew "maintained a taxi speed of 5 [knots]." As the B-747 approached the EMB-190, the right seat captain advised the "other crew members and left-seat captain" to "continue taxiing." The statement then noted that after the B-747 passed the EMB-190, the right seat captain "came to the cockpit and searched for the ground commander."
The B-747 crew was unaware of the collision and loss of the winglet until their engineering personnel advised them that "there was a scratch on the aircraft right wingtip." At this point the right seat captain "did not think that the aircraft damage had any relation" to the EMB-190. Subsequent to this, JetBlue personnel advised Air China personnel of the collision. The B-747 crew visited the EMB-190 and observed the B-747 winglet embedded in the EMB-190 rudder. The B-747 crew also observed that the EMB-190 main landing gear was approximately 2 meters inside the non-movement area, and that the tail of the EMB-190 was "close to the CB taxiway."
New York Port Authority Operations Log Information
According to the New York Port Authority (NYPA) Kennedy Airport Operations Log, the NYPA was notified of the collision at 0020. At 0025 NYPA personnel responded to the collision location, and noted that taxiway CB centerline lights were illuminated and that the taxiway was "bare" of contaminants. At 0050 the NYPA was advised by JetBlue that the EMB-190 was "holding just off [taxiway] CB awaiting a marshal" at the time of the collision. The NYPA noted that the section of the EMB-190 aft of the main landing gear was "on the movement side of the [demarcation] markings." At 0100 the log noted that an FAA inspector requested that Air China "not make any repairs to the aircraft" until he coordinated with other FAA personnel at approximately 0730 that morning, and that Air China was advised of this request.
Parking and Collision Geometry
The non-movement area demarcation line was located approximately 140 feet from the taxiway CB centerline, and the B-747 semi-span was approximately 110 feet. Comparison of these dimensions indicated that with the B-747 on the taxiway CB centerline, approximately 30 feet of clearance remained between the right winglet and the non-movement area demarcation line.
The EMB-190 nose and main landing gear were on the non-movement side of the demarcation line, but approximately 50 feet of the airplane remained on the movement side of the demarcation line. In this position, the tail of the EMB-190 was approximately 90 feet from the taxiway CB centerline. The collision geometry indicated that the B-747 was offset approximately 10 to 15 feet to the left of the taxiway centerline at the time of the impact. An offset of approximately 20 feet left of the taxiway centerline would have permitted the B-747 to avoid contact with the parked EMB-190, yet still provide approximately 20 feet of clearance between the main landing gear and the taxiway edge.