The following is a letter I wrote to the FAA and JetBlue:
I believe the following constitutes a violation of safety. I was a passenger on JetBlue Flight 555 this evening (Newark to Ft Myers scheduled departure 630pm). Approx one hour before landing in Ft. Myers, we were involved in what I perceived to be a near mid-air collision that was never acknowledged by the captain nor crew. I’m sure this sounds like a joke but I assure you we passed within no more than a few hundred yards of another jet. It seemed like another commercial airliner. I was seated in the 2nd to last row, window seat, on the right side of the aircraft. I was facing forward but I noticed the jet immediately as it appeared in view of my window. I witnessed it pass my aircraft across the nose at a perpendicular angle within, at most, 300-400 yards of my aircraft at approximately the same altitude. My aircraft did experience turbulence during the incident, but turbulence had been occurring during the entire flight. I did not mention this to the crew because I have to believe this happened due to the fault of someone on the ground. Trust me when I say I truly believe this must be investigated. I can understand close calls at low altitudes in crowded air spaces. But we are 34,000 feet over South Carolina / Georgia! If not for the late hour and my fatigue, I would have brought this up via phone call. Perhaps I will do that in the morning. I would greatly appreciate a response.
I have also sent this via the website.
Christopher A. Forsman email@example.com
5025 Marina Cove Dr.
Naples, FL 34112
Aircraft today operate in what is called RVSM airspace, that stands for Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum. RVSM. Now it may have appeared to you that you were mere yards from the other aircraft but you were in fact not.
If the aircraft had been in danger of colliding computers in each aircraft would have given each crew commands to resolve the issue. Also Air traffic Control would have given commands to each crew to avoid a crash.
Don’t feel bad, do to RVSM I’m sure the FAA and airline operators get hundreds of letters each year on this very subject. I would suggest removing your address from public view on the internet
If he was describing vertical distance, his description of 300 to 400 yards would have been spot on, but he indicates horizontal distance per bolded below. Is there a horizontal separation minimums at that altitude for RSVM? (Too lazy to delve beyond a cursory google search that didn’t reveal horizontal minimums)
With this said, I’d suspect at 34000 feet at night the there was no separation issue that could be identified by eyeballing it. I’d almost bet he wouldn’t have been able to describe the red, green and white position lights on the plane identifying which wing belonged to what much less guess the distance.
Irrespective of RVSM, in the described airspace environment the lateral separation standard is to be no less than ten miles…with of course the 1000’ vertical (RVSM airspace) separation standard.
When aircraft are converging it can be very difficult to discern altitude between the two, especially at night with little to no visual references…let alone with the restricted viewability from passenger airliner window.
As long as the aircraft are separated by 1000 feet vertically, they can pass directly over each other (no horizontal separation). I will admit, it can be unnerving to see another aircraft zip past you 1000 feet away, but it is in no way unsafe or illegal.
“I did not mention this to the crew because I have to believe this happened due to the fault of someone on the ground. Trust me when I say I truly believe this must be investigated”.
What the original poster is accusing the Jacksonville controllers involved is a serious operational error, and then a cover-up. Which is a firing type offense. Go ahead, call your regional office in Atlanta: (404) 305-5000.
Absolutely a “serious operational error”. However, something that most likely didn’t happen and it is just what you mentioned as merely an accusation, due to an honest lack of understanding of the “system”.
One can be pretty certain that had a loss of separation to the point of the TCAS systems issuing a Resolution Advisory (RA) that the OP would’ve noted a rather abrupt manuever as a result of following the direction of the TCAS to avoid the conflicting aircraft.
Just as a claification…the ten mile lateral separation statement that I made in my earlier post was in reference to aircraft that are at the same altitude.