Close Call: Pilot Slams on Brakes to Avoid Possible Collision at Bradley Airport – NBC Connecticut

JFK Airport in New York had a pair of cases last month where planes had to make abrupt stops after air traffic controllers noticed other planes taxiing in front of them.
These are known in aviation lingo as “runway incursions.”
NBC Connecticut Investigates learned of an incursion in our state, that has been the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inquiry.
A Delta Airlines pilot relayed his emotion to the Bradley International Airport control tower on April 30 last year around 10:15 p.m.

“That is not a good feeling guys…” is what the pilot said, in air traffic control audio obtained by NBC Connecticut Investigates.
FAA reports say moments earlier, the flight from Atlanta landed on runway 33, applying excessive braking to stop before the runway intersection to avoid an unescorted construction vehicle approaching on a closed intersecting runway.

The Connecticut Airport Authority says no one was hurt.
Delta Airlines confirms it reported the incident to the FAA. They didn’t comment further to NBC Connecticut Investigates about what happened.
It turns out no vehicles crossed the runway Delta 2679 was landing on, but the FAA said one did go past a “hold short line” nearby…which makes it a “runway incursion,” defined by the FAA as “…the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.”
The only Bradley operations specialist on duty that night said in a statement to the FAA that the driver of one of the vehicles on the closed runway “…said he got confused…” because construction barricades were placed in different spots than they were on previous evenings.
Incursions are categorized from A to D, with A being the most serious.
The FAA gave the Bradley incident a rating of a “B,” defined by the agency as an incursion where “…there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time critical corrective/evasive response.”
NBC Connecticut Investigates shared the air traffic audio with NBC News Aviation Analyst Captain John Cox, a former commercial airline pilot who says he has flown planes into Bradley many times.
“To have something like there may be a vehicle pull out in front of us. It’s disconcerting,” Cox said.
He said what happened was a powerful lesson for everyone involved, but, the system worked.
“I think in the end, the pilots were conservative, the air traffic controllers performed well. And so in the end, I think the safety net, that people expect to be surrounding an airliner when they sit down on it, remained intact,” Cox said.
The FAA did not take enforcement action against Bradley, but it did give the airport a warning letter…in a statement saying its “…investigation found that Bradley International Airport did not provide enough personnel to handle the construction activities on the evening in question, did not sufficiently train the contractor for operating on the airfield unescorted, and did not strictly follow its plans for managing construction vehicles.”
We asked Connecticut Airport Authority Director Kevin Dillon about the incident. He told NBC Connecticut Investigates, “We have a very comprehensive training program here. In the case of this individual, it appeared to be simply a lack of situational awareness.”
The FAA said Bradley took appropriate action to address the issue, which Dillon said included both an airport employee and the contractor who crossed the runway hold short line.
“He was removed from the job at that point, was not allowed to work until he was retrained. We also did counsel, our operations person that was on duty that night for failing to escort that vehicle appropriately. That person was removed from service was counseled and also was retrained,” Dillon said.
He added the airport has put other measures in place.
“…We have dedicated people that do nothing now, but oversee the contractors operating on the airfield,” Dillon said.
Runway incursions like this are not rare, but they are uncommon. 
FAA records indicate there have been 52 runway incursions involving various airlines at Bradley since 2001 – less than other airports roughly the same size.