As an aviation geek, I love listening to air traffic control audio, and always enjoy the VASAviation YouTube channel, which does a great job covering interesting air traffic control situations. Here’s the latest one of these.
In this post:
Kalitta Air 747 starts takeoff roll without clearance in Cincinnati
While VASAviation has just published a video about this incident, it actually dates back to August 11, 2023, and involves Kalitta Air flight 690 from Cincinnati (CVG) to Anchorage (ANC). The flight was operated by a 31-year-old Boeing 747-400 with the registration code N707CK.
For those not familiar, Kalitta Air is a cargo airline that primarily operates Boeing 747s. The airline uses the callsign “Connie,” and the backstory of that is cool — the company was founded by Conrad “Connie” Kalitta, and the airline decided to use his nickname as the callsign.
Anyway, below you can see and hear the incident that unfolded at Cincinnati Airport.
The Kalitta Air jumbo jet is instructed to line up and wait on runway 27, and one of the pilots of the plane correctly reads back those instructions. However, for whatever reason, the pilots shortly begin their takeoff roll down the runway.
At the same time, an Endeavor Air CRJ-900 operating on behalf of Delta Connection arriving from Minneapolis (MSP) is cleared to land on the intersecting runway, and touches down. Obviously having planes taking off and landing at the same time on intersecting runways is a big no-no.
Fortunately the air traffic controller catches the mistake the Kalitta Air pilots make very quickly, and advises them to cancel their takeoff clearance, before they even reach the runway intersection.
What stands out to me about this incident
Pilots are only human, and just like everyone else, they make mistakes. Now, I am still a bit confused by how this mistake happened — the air traffic controller’s communications were crystal clear about lining up and waiting. How did neither of the two pilots realize that they were taking off without clearance?
The thing that stands out to me most about this incident, though, is how over-the-top professional the air traffic controller is. She remains calm and communicates very clearly. Sometimes in these kinds of incidents, we see air traffic controllers losing their cool and having an ego or temper, while this controller does exactly the opposite.
What an excellent job she does, quickly identifying the problem, calmly resolving it, and then giving the pilots a phone number to call due to the possible pilot deviation.
A Kalitta Air Boeing 747 tried to take off from Cincinnati Airport without takeoff clearance. The pilots had been instructed to line up on the runway, but for whatever reason, they decided to just start their takeoff roll. Fortunately the controller quickly spotted this. Often when we see these kinds of videos, the air traffic controllers aren’t exactly calm, so this controller deserves some credit.
What do you make of this Kalitta Air runway incident?