Incredibly last week, an ITA (formerly Alitalia) Airbus A330 reportedly smacked the tail of an Air France Boeing 777 during taxi for takeoff at New York’s JFK airport, failed to notice and then departed to complete a flight to Italy. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Of course, it may not be fair to call this a “hit and run” accident because crewing a widebody is hardly comparable to wheeling a 15-foot automobile in rush hour.
The nighttime incident happened as the A330-200 taxied past the rear of the stopped and just-landed 777-200ER, and apparently went unnoticed by the ITA crew. No word on whether any passengers noticed and tried to alert the cabin crew. The crew of the 777 took notice, however, at least after conferring with ground crew, and notified Kennedy Ground control of the incident with specific advice to withhold takeoff clearance for the Airbus. Shockingly, despite a half-hour passing with both airplanes still on the ground, word didn’t travel quickly enough, and ITA flight AZ611 departed.
Reportedly during its climbout on the way to Rome, the ITA crew was queried by New York Tower or Departure about whether they were aware of any contact with another ship on the ground, and they replied that there had been none.
While unspecified damage to the 777 was apparently enough to keep it out of service for more than a week and counting, the ITA Airbus appears to have resumed a normal schedule after three days of downtime in Rome. Naturally, the NTSB and FAA are investigating the incident, and we wouldn’t be surprised if EASA takes a particular interest, too.