JFK Near Miss: American Airlines Pilots Refuse NTSB Interview

American Airlines pilots refuse NTSB interviews.
Photo Credit: Joris Wendt/AviationSource

LONDON – The pilots operating American Airlines Flight 106 on January 13 have refused to be interviewed by the NTSB about the near miss with a Delta flight at JFK.

The incident between American Airlines Flight 106 and Delta Air Lines Flight 1943 occurred at JFK when the two aircraft nearly collided with each other.

DL1943 aborted its takeoff at 100 knots as AA106 was crossing the runway at JFK, which shouldn’t have happened.

American Airlines Pilots to Be Subpoenaed…

American Airlines pilots refuse NTSB interviews.
Photo Credit: Jamie Clarke/AviationSource

In the NTSB’s preliminary report, they stated that they have issued subpoenas for the pilots onboard American Airlines Flight 106 following a “repeated unwillingness to proceed with a recorded interview”.

The NTSB continued: “On behalf of the crew, the APA party representative informed the NTSB that the crew would not consent to participate in audio-recorded interviews in any manner.”

“NTSB has determined that this investigation requires that the flight crew interviews be audio recorded and transcribed by a court reporter to ensure the highest degree of accuracy, completeness, and efficiency.”

It is understood the investigatory body has attempted to interview the pilots on three separate occasions.

The APA Are Not Happy About Audio-Recorded Interviews…

American Airlines pilots refuse NTSB interviews.
Photo Credit: Jamie Clarke/AviationSource

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, had this to say on the rejected interview requests:

“As the representative of the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, the Allied Pilots Association has registered its concerns over the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent insistence on electronically recording crew interviews during investigations.”

“In most instances, NTSB incident investigations include requests to interview the crew members involved. Historically, these interviews have been conducted in a manner in which notes were taken by the parties or a stenographic record was produced.”

“Those methods have long been sufficient in producing accurate records and enabling the Board to produce thorough reports and findings.”

“Recently, however, Board investigators have begun requiring that some witness interviews be both transcribed and electronically recorded in the name of producing a “more accurate record.”

Photo Credit: Karam Sodhi/AviationSource

“Not only may the recording of interviews lead to less candid responses from those witnesses who may choose to proceed under such requirements, but the existence and potential availability of interview recordings upon conclusion of an investigation will tend to lead many otherwise willing crew members to elect not to participate in interviews at all.”

“Either outcome would not serve to advance the goal of conducting effective investigations in order to promote aviation safety.”

“NTSB investigations are intended to be fact-finding proceedings with no adverse parties. We do not believe that this should be an adversarial issue.”

“In fact, the Board’s own published investigation manuals reflect its long-held position that the non-consensual recording of witness interviews is not permitted.”

“Implementing changes to established practices, especially those with a demonstrated history of success, in a way that discourages otherwise cooperative witnesses from participating in the fact-finding process is antithetical to the purpose and goal of the NTSB.”

Allied Pilots Association Statement on NTSB
American Airlines pilots refuse NTSB interviews.
Photo Credit: Joris Wendt/AviationSource


Looking ahead, it’s going to be interesting to see which side backs off in terms of the recorded interview argument.

All eyes will be on the APA and the NTSB to see if they can come to a common consensus on the American Airlines pilots, as it is important that their accounts are heard.

Once their accounts are heard, then the NTSB can move forward with its recommendations to enhance the safety of JFK airport.

By James Field - Editor in Chief 5 Min Read
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