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Runway light concerns continue at JFK

Jim Hoffer with the exclusive report.
May 13, 2014 8:31:53 PM PDT
Earlier this week, a center line runway light at JFK airport came loose and as a Delta 747 took off, the light became impaled in the plane's underbelly, raising safety concerns.

It was still there 12 hours later when it landed in Japan.

J.P. Tristani, a former pilot, said center-line lights should never become dislodged because the consequences if one gets embedded in a plane could be serious. "That is not a normal experience and very dangerous," he said.

According to an annual inspection report, JFK airport was not complying with Federal Aviation Administration standards for maintenance, including lighting. The Port Authority had to make immediate repairs to unlit runway exit signs and missing runway edge lights.

In February, Eyewitness News revealed how main taxiways were dark for long stretches due to lack of maintenance; exclusive video showed the lighted, green center line that guides planes suddenly disappears into hundreds of yards of darkness.

The Port Authority's aviation director said then that it was working on it. "We know we have a problem," said Thomas Bosco, the Port Authority aviation director.

"We wouldn't do it if it wasn't safe. You're right; it is a serious problem and that's why we're working 24/7 to correct it," said Bosco.

Three months later, the loose runway light pierced the underbelly of the passenger-filled plane. The Port Authority said it's ''conducting an extensive review of lighting fixtures along runways at our airports to ensure all runway electrical equipment is properly secured."

"That something improperly secured so much so that the nose wheel would dislodge it and throw it up into the fuselage is a serious imperfection in that runway lighting system," said Tristani.

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