"The intricacies of Boston’s Logan Airport are well-known to both pilots and controllers and others who operate various equipment around the tarmac. It’s a small layout, with many crossings of taxiways and runways. Extreme focus is essential at all times, because even the most innocent of movements can quickly turn into a potential incident.
Such was the case on the morning of last Aug. 8. Logan Tower controllers were using Runways 22 Left and 27 for landing and Runway 22 Right for departures. The ground controller on duty was Kevin Winn. His veteran colleague on local control was James Sawyer. The simultaneous actions of both men involving the same aircraft helped prevent a potential disaster.
A Federal Express jet, an Airbus 300, operated by a non-pilot – likely a mechanic – requested taxi instructions from the FedEx ramp to perform a maintenance procedure called a high-powered run-up. Winn instructed the aircraft to proceed via taxiway kilo and hold short of Taxiway Charlie. Charlie turns right 90 degrees off kilo and intersects Runway 22R, so Winn gave the FedEx some very important instructions.
Winn told the FedEx to make the right turn onto taxiway Charlie and clearly added that the jet should hold short of Runway 22R. The jet’s operator acknowledged the transmission, but then proceeded to do the very thing he was instructed to avoid – cross Runway 22R. Winn immediately caught it: “FedEx 661 STOP!” He then told the aircraft to hold short of Runway 22L and pointed out the operator’s error, saying, “FedEx 661, uh, you just crossed Runway 22 Right on your own, you know that.” The operator acknowledged and said he didn’t realize the mistake until he had found himself halfway across the runway.
Winn, confident that FedEx 661 was not going to proceed any further and risk crossing 22L then instructed the aircraft to change frequency, and monitor the tower’s local control. But by then, Sawyer had already tried and failed to reach FedEx661 as it approached Runway 22R and did not look like it was going to stop short. Sawyer was forced to make some quick decisions regarding a JetBlue flight off 22R, which he had moments earlier cleared for takeoff. But upon failing to reach the FedEx operator, Sawyer immediately canceled JetBlue’s takeoff clearance and averted a serious incident.
“These controllers are very deserving of this award because of their quick reaction,” Boston Tower NATCA Facility Representative Tom Coronite said. “Because he was scanning the operating area, James saw the FedEx aircraft moving fast and, even though that aircraft was not his responsibility, he took immediate action. As FedEx was not on his frequency, he quickly went to the JetBlue pilot and canceled his takeoff clearance. Otherwise, the FedEx and the JetBlue may have collided at the Runway 22 Right and the Taxiway Charlie (C) intersection.”"
CONTROLLERS: Kevin Winn and James Sawyer
August 8, 2005
WINN: FedEx six sixty one heavy, I understand you’re ready to go. You can taxi via kilo and hold short of charlie.
FEDEX 661: Kilo, hold short of charlie, thank you.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one, get rid of those two Eagles.
FEDEX 661: Ok, we’ll get clear.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one heavy, make a right turn at taxiway charlie and hold short of two-two right.
FEDEX 661: Right on Charlie and hold short of two-two, thank you, six sixty one.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one stop!
WINN: FedEx six sixty one heavy, Boston.
FEDEX 661: Go ahead, six sixty one.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one heavy, hold short of runway two two left, acknowledge.
FEDEX 661: Hold short of two two left, acknowledge.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one, ah, you just crossed runway two two right on your own, you know that.
FEDEX 661: Ah, yes sir, we realized that about halfway across.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one heavy, I want you to stop right there.
FEDEX 661: Ok, this is six sixty one.
WINN: FedEx six sixty one heavy, I want you to switch to and monitor tower now on one three two, point two two.
FEDEX 661: One three two, point two two.
SAWYER: JetBlue four forty one, Boston Tower, when you have access runway two two right position hold, traffic will cross downfield prior to your departure.
JETBLUE 441: Position hold, two two right, JetBlue four forty one.
SAWYER: Commuter eighty seven oh four, Boston.
COMMUTER 8704: Go ahead, sir, commuter eighty seven oh four.
SAWYER: Eighty seven oh four, traffic’s still holding in position, make the right turn on runway four left and taxi down to foxtrot, please, I got a FedEx heavy jet coming out that taxiway to gulf coming around.
SAWYER: JetBlue four forty one, two two right, cleared for takeoff.
JETBLUE 441: Cleared for takeoff, two two right, JetBlue four forty one.
SAWYER: FedEx six sixty one stop!
SAWYER: JetBlue four forty one cancel takeoff clearance, hold the position.
JETBLUE 441: Holding in position, JetBlue four forty one.