When looking at the large version I can sort of understand where the "baddistance" came from. The Airliners.net screeners tend to like the plane to fill the majority of the frame.
As far as how to fix it or avoid it, just shoot tighter - more zoom - as tight as you possibly can without cutting aything but a wing tip off. Also, you could try cropping. Is that large version the same size as the original from the camera? What size is it? (1440x960? 1024x768?) YOu could try simply cropping it and re-submit. In many cases these "baddistance" rejections can easily be fixed with cropping, from my experience.
My D30 shoots are 2160 x 1440 size, so I know that i have a little room to play with cropping if I need to. And to rotate a little if needed and then crop and still have to down-size to get it in at 1200x800.
As a side note, I have considerable experience with rejections here. I can say that probably a large percentage of rejections that people talk about on here can be fixed with proper editing in a good photo editing program. many people dont like to crop for some reason - but you do what you gotta do to fit the airliners.net style. Other than cropping, let me show you an example. I had this one photo that I liked very much and tried to get it uploaded back in September but it would not make it. i put it up on the other site. have a look:
Dont mind the jagged compression - that was caused by the site. But the color and darkness - notice that. Now, in the time since then I have learned new techniques in photoshop. I applied new actions to the original, and uploaded it again HERE and now see the result:
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Photo © Bruce Leibowitz
Notice how I cropped it. The new version, plane is a little bigger. And, overall sharpness and levels much improved. So, many of people's rejections can be saved with good photo editing techniques. I do plan on re-uploading the one on the other site to a newer version BTW.