Jay Selman’s An Inside Look

Guest Editor Jay Selman

An Inside Look

As a Walter Mitty pilot, I really love getting an inside look at what happens behind the cockpit door, which is now closed to us non-pilot types. In early May, an incident occured at JFK which I found fascinating. I received an email which contained some basic information that I am “borrowing” in an attempt to present a fair and balanced narrative of the incident.

The distilled summary: An American Airlines 767 enroute into JFK from Los Angeles arrived to be assigned runway 22L as the landing runway. The wind was out of 310 at 22 knots, gusting to 34 knots—a direct crosswind that might have had a slight tailwind component. The Captain refused the landing runway and, when ATC declined to assign 31R, he declared an emergency and landed on it anyway.
Here is a condensed clip on the incident:
Over on PPRuNe (Professional Pilots Rumor Network):

opinions are divided. Some think the Captain should have slipped into the flow and let the controller work out an approach for 31R that would minimize chaos for everyone else. If the flight was so low on fuel as to require unconditional maneuvering, why didn’t the crew declare this sooner? And if the crew couldn’t handle a 34-knot crosswind as just a day at the office, what are they doing flying into Kennedy? Others cheered the Captain, believing he determined that an unsafe condition existed and acted to correct it. End of story. On my personal Facebook page (aviation.writer@gmail.com), opinions are similarly divided.

One gentleman who originally offered an opinion said, (and I agree) “I don’t have enough experience in this realm to offer an opinion on the righteousness of the Captain’s call. Even if I did, I’m not sure I would, because I wasn’t in the seat.” However, I welcome your comments on this blog in an effort to share your Inside Look into this incident.

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2 thoughts on “Jay Selman’s An Inside Look

  1. Mike Primamore

    Granted I’m no flyer, but I applaud the Captains call. He declared an emergency and that alone is gutsy on his part, regardless of what circumstances that led up to that point.

    1. brucedrum

      Thank you Mike for your input. I know Jay will appreciate any comments on his Guest Column and this interesting question.

      Bruce Drum

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