Kalitta 747 Starts Takeoff Without Clearance In Cincinnati!

By Spyros Georgilidakis | September 21, 2023

A tower controller in Cincinnati intervened when the crew of a Kalitta 747 started their takeoff roll with traffic on an intersecting runway.

This incident took place a few weeks ago, on Friday the 11th of August this year. It involved two aircraft, a Kalitta 747 and an Endeavor Air CRJ-900LR. The CRJ crew was performing flight EDV-5117, on behalf of Delta Air Lines.

Kalitta 747 Starts Takeoff Without Clearance In Cincinnati!
Photo: Nathan Coats, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Endeavor crew was arriving in Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International (KCVG) from Minneapolis Saint Paul International (KMSP). They would land on runway 18C. The crew of the Kalitta 747 was departing Cincinnati using runway 27, heading for Anchorage Ted Stevens International (PANC). This was flight K4-690.

In ATC audio of the incident, it appears that the Cincinnati tower controller cleared the Kalitta 747 crew to “line up and wait” on runway 27. The controller also informed the Kalitta crew that there was traffic on a two-mile final on the intersecting runway (18C).

Photo: Frank Kovalchek, CC BY 2.0

Kalitta 747 In Cincinnati Lines Up But Doesn’t Wait…

The Kalitta crew acknowledged the “line up and wait”, without mentioning the traffic. But rather than wait, the 747 pilots started their takeoff roll, soon after lining up with the runway. Fortunately, the Cincinnati tower controller immediately became aware that the Kalitta 747 was accelerating.

The controller told the Kalitta crew that their takeoff clearance (which they’d never got) was canceled. In response, the 747 pilots stopped their aircraft quickly. According to flight tracking websites, this was a low-speed rejection, from around 25 knots (ground speed).

Kalitta 747 Starts Takeoff Without Clearance In Cincinnati!
Photo: Alan Wilson, CC BY-SA 2.0

While the Kalitta crew stopped their 747, the Endeavor crew that had just landed in Cincinnati was slowing down quickly. This crew decelerated their CRJ-900 to taxi speed, before the intersection with runway 27.

The Endeavor flight exited runway 18C and reached the terminal without further incident. At the same time, the Kalitta crew taxied their 747 back to the threshold of runway 27 and left Cincinnati about 10 minutes after rejecting. The rest of their flight was uneventful.

The incident aircraft in 2021, wearing an intermediate Kalitta livery. Photo: LN9267, CC BY-SA 4.0

Both aircraft continued normal service. The Kalitta aircraft is a 31-year-old 747-400 BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter), with registration N707CK. It first flew for Korean Air Lines in 1992, as a passenger jet.

The Endeavor CRJ-900LR has registration N320PQ and is just over 9 years old. Endeavor has flown it for Delta Air Lines since it first entered service, in July 2014.



  • Many moons ago I worked the ramp for DHL. Worked with Kalitta on several occasions. I was always cautioned to watch for “cut corners”. They had a reputation.

  • Natraj,
    Kalitta Air is a US company, and the pilot’s voice in the ATC communication (linked in this article to VASaviaton’s video) sounds like an American accent, so it is safe to say that language was not an issue.

  • Natraj Dakshinamurthy

    Whew, that’s really scary. Hope the same incident of Grand Canary islands is not repeated. How can the 747F proceed for take off without permission? Did they not understand the ATC communication due to language? Hope such incidents do not repeat

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