Two commercial jetliners preparing for takeoff at National Airport brushed wing tips yesterday afternoon, causing minor damage to the planes and some passenger inconvenience but no injuries, airport officials said.
According to airline spokesmen, the accident occurred as United Airlines flight 827 to Knoxville was sitting still, waiting at the foot of southbound runway 18, while New York Air flight 306 to Newark was maneuvering to get ahead of it, as instructed by ground controllers.
At about 3:21 p.m., the left wing of the New York Air DC-9 struck the right wing of the United 727, according to Stephen Kolski, vice president of flight operations for New York Air. Passengers reportedly felt a slight jolt.
Passengers deplaned after the jets returned to their respective gates, and the planes were taken out of service for inspection and repair, officials said. Damage to both planes appeared to be superficial, officials said, confined to the lights at the end of each wing.
Kolski said another New York Air plane was diverted to National to handle the Newark-bound passengers.
The United passengers were shifted to other flights, Chuck Novak, a United spokesman, said.
Ira Furman, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates transportation accidents, said an investigator had been dispatched to the airport last night to investigate the mishap. "They were maneuvering for position," said Furman. "But they were both in the control of a ground controller. It's not like getting on a highway entrance ramp."