Jet Blue's Southwest Airlines Collision Is Just The Latest Near-Miss in Air Travel in 2014
Still more harrowing news from the world of air travel: The wing of a Southwest Airlines flight collided with a JetBlue plane while trying to depart Boston's Logan International Airport Monday morning. The Southwest Boeing 737 reportedly damaged its wingtip by dragging it into the JetBlue Airbus 320's right horizontal stabilizer as it backed away from its gate. No passengers were aboard the JetBlue flight, but the Southwest one was fully stocked with travelers.
It is, in short, a worrisome incident that turned out okay, and with 2014 already full of dramatic aviation tragedy in the form of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, that's a very merciful outcome. It's not the first such near-miss from just this year, however — quite to the contrary, it's been a particularly nerve-wracking year for flyers already, and it's only June.
Of course, it's worth mentioning that flying is actually statistically very safe, safer than driving, as is often pointed out. But that's sure to be cold comfort to those people who strapped into the following planes, and had their expectations of worry-free flying dashed. Whether the result of an unsteady gate departure, secret stowaways, an ill-timed flock of birds, or just good, old-fashioned mechanical failure, there's been no shortage of tension-inducing airline incidents this year.
1. U.S. Airways Flight Blows a Tire, Skids Off Runway
U.S. Airways Flight 1702 was attempting to depart from Philadelphia international Airport in March, headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when it all went horribly wrong. With 149 passengers and five crew members aboard, the plane blew out one of its tires.
As the pilot attempted to abort the flight, the nose section of the plane fell forward and began skidding along the runway, forcing an emergency response which got everybody off the plane safely — but not without a quickening of the pulse, no doubt.
2. Delta Airlines Flight 2412 Loses A Wing Piece in Mid-Air
Just days later in March, Delta passengers bound from Atlanta to Orlando suffered what must be about the worst mid-air nightmare one can glimpse — the loss of a piece of the 757's wing, which flew off as the plane was in transit. And it wasn't some small, trifling mishap, either.
Despite this rather terrifying sight, the plane successfully and safely landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl. Airport in Atlanta.
3. JetBlue Flight 671 Forced to Land After Bird Strike
Maybe the second half of March was just a cursed month for air travel? The third such dire incident that month, a JetBlue flight headed from White Plains, New York down to Florida didn't make it very far, forced to land after one of a flock of birds struck the jetliner. This is no small or trifling matter — It was a bird strike which ultimately brought down U.S. Airways Flight 1549, the jet which the now-famed pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed in the Hudson River in 2009.
The flight was landed at JFK International Airport, out of "an abundance of caution," according to JetBlue. Nobody was harmed, luckily, with the obvious exception of that poor, poor bird.
4. California Teen Stows Away in a Wheel Well, Somehow Survives
Of all the near-misses of 2014, this is the one that most confounded observers, and thankfully so. Aiming to hide on a flight to Hawaii, reportedly to try to reach his mother in Somalia, a 16-year-old San Jose teen stowed away in the wheel well of a Boeing 767, throughout a six-hour over-ocean flight.
It was a blindingly dangerous scheme, which experts said should have cost the young man his life — at cruising altitude, with oxygen-thin air and freezing-cold temperatures, it's very easy to pass out. When the plane tries to land, even worse, there's no indication inside the wheel well, meaning the door opens up and the landing gear drops without warning, threatening to dump anybody inside down to the ground below.
But in spite of all these staggering risks, he survived. Hopefully, he'll be old enough and have enough money to a buy himself a ticket next time.