Shortly after noon today at New York’s JFK airport, a powerful thunderstorm cell with cloud tops of 40,000 feet passed over the field and subsequently turned the NY airspace into a tangled mess.
Lightning struck the field a first time, taking down the airport’s runway visual range (RVR) equipment, which is used to measure exactly how far a pilot in the center of the runway is able to see the center line markings. Lightning strikes happen and equipment failures occur all the time, butmoments later, lightning struck yet again, this time taking out the ILS glide slope for runway 4R, the active runway. At that moment, several international heavies were on final approach, forcing missed approaches and go-arounds.
The air space around JFK quickly became a total tangled mess, as the inbound aircraft decided whether they would wait out the storm and hope the equipment would come back into service, or divert to another airport. One American Airlines 737 requested takeoff clearance, but was denied because the airspace was too cluttered with go-around traffic.
After about 20 minutes, the equipment issues were sorted out and Caribbean 420, a Boeing 737, was the first aircraft to land at JFK.
When all was said and done, TransAero 1111 and Lufthansa 400, both Boeing 747s, decided to divert to Newark in New Jersey, taking a lengthy detour through upstate New York. While inconvenient for the passengers on board, they will now enjoy the rare opportunity to fly across New York City from Newark to JFK.
Sometimes, lightning does strike twice. Next time, lets just hope it strikes something else.
|This story written by… Jason Rabinowitz, Senior Correspondent.Jason is a New York City native who has grown up in the shadow of JFK International Airport. A true “avgeek”, he enjoys plane spotting and photography, as well taking any opportunity he can get to fly on an aircraft.|