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Feds Probe Claim Of Near-Miss Between Passenger Jets; Could Have Been Worst-Ever Air Disaster

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The Federal Aviation Administration is checking the story of a San Francisco writer who claims his flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles was nearly involved in a mid-air collision with another passenger jet last month, one that could have been the worst aviation disaster ever. (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com) 기타...

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bn2av8r
Ryan Hales 16
Oh puleeaz! This tool really wants to revitalize his failing writing career I guess. "590 people would have died and it would have been the worst accident ever". A simple trip over to the seating charts of both airlines show that the UAL 753 seats only 213 and the AWE 752 seats 190. So unless there are over 100 crew members, he is just crying for attention. Makes me sick people will probably give this guy money for his "harrowing" story.
joelwiley
The author Carlos Castenda seems to be channeling another author by that name who wrote, among others, "A Separate Reality".
chalet
chalet 2
C'om, puleeaz, didn´t you know that there were more than 100 stowaways neatly tucked into the landing gear well.
av8law
A writer who's looking for attention by sensationalizing an event that occurred as designed, it appears to me. I suggest the writer learn about a subject prior to writing about it. The system worked as designed.
captainjman
Thats right - the system worked

If we are going to write every times something COULD have happened, or ALMOST happened in aviation - there would be a horrific report on TV every day.... it's the fact that we have good equipment, a working system, good pilots, etc etc - that this stuff doesn't happen and all of this working together is what makes aviation so safe in the first place.... because there is nothing inherently safe about a pressurized metal tube suspended 7 miles over the earth, stuffed with humans, being hurled at near the speed of sound in conditions such as negative 50 degrees centigrade, and 100mph winds and no air pressure.....

Instead of a story about the horrific accident that almost happened he should have written about how great everything and everyone was - and how it saved the day.

The days of actual reporting are LONG gone!
preacher1
That's like the headlines that read Horrendous about a car in a railroad grade crossing in which the driver is killed. They need to read "DAMN FOOL PULLS IN FRONT OF TRAIN,GIVES ENGINEER NIGHTMARES THE REST OF HIS LIFE." Totally sensationalized. The public don't give a damn about what works as designed. It's just news when it don't, and because all the people are confined at 1 point, it's catastrophic when something does happen, BUT, just look at the traffic fatalities for a year or so; they are onesies and twosies and we become callous to that, yet millions of pax fly every day with no harm. Why do I feel I'm preaching to the choir here?
captainjman
why else take the screen name Preacher1 ? LOL

what seems to be the worst part is that so many people want normality to return- and yet it doesn't.

Maybe corporations shouldn't be people?
joelwiley
If people were to consider that every landing is 'nearly' a hard landing, crash landing, or outright crash, they'd take Amtrack. And then they'd hit Preacher's D**ded fool at the crossing.
(Don't tell that to CNN, they'll report every one as filler for the MH370 search)
preacher1
Well, if this guy was on board, it probably was all that to him, but you are correct on the landing; at some point and time between flare and touchdown, and maybe others, you are kinda along for the ride, hope you have it set right and that everything works. Basically a controlled crash. A walk away is a reward for doing your job right another time. LOL
preacher1
Not sure exactly where he was but ground based radar is not really an option. Sounds like TCAS worked as it should have, no injuries, just a panicked pax; I wouldn't have investigated any further either. Stuff happens.
bishops90
Question - how much of a "dive" is normal for a TCAS alert?
preacher1
Generally, about a grand, on climb or descent but it will vary depending on speed/altitude. i.e. if you are at a multiple runway airport and you get a conflict warning, you may have a problem on the dive if you are not that high in the pattern or if you are at low altitude to commence with. Same thing if you happen to be on top near max cruise level for the AC and you get a climb warning. You may have to do your best to go up if you can, giving up some speed for altitude. Then you may be faced with a stall warning, which will definitely take precedence. It is just that, a warning.
bishops90
Bout what I thought. Thanks.
WithnailANDi
I'm an aeronautical radio operator and former flight attendant. As an F/A I experienced a few such maneuvers, and I can tell you they're not fun (I was the one holding the full pot of hot coffee). As a radio operator, this sort of thing is exactly why we get frustrated when pilots decide to switch flight levels or deviate without getting clearance from ATC, or notifying us. I'm glad that TCAS works, but if the pilots are communicating properly with ATC, this sort of thing shouldn't happen. "Just a panicked pax" could result in a heart attack, asthma attack, or other health issue... many elderly and ill people fly (we also handle multiple medical phone patches every day). Small children are not always properly buckled in, and could be seriously injured by an incident like this, etc. I'm glad the feds are looking into this.
bishops90
Valid points but the reporter's lack of insight and sensationalistic journalism supports Preacher's "panicked pax" statement.
The writer assumes a lot in describing "almost" being in "the worst air disaster in history" without any data regarding how close the two aircraft actually came to each other. I'd be willing to bet it wasn't even close. The article says "the collision occurred....." There WAS NO collision!
WithnailANDi
You're comparing apples and oranges. My comment was not about the journalist or the way the article was written, it was about the need for good comms between pilots and ATC to avoid having to depend on TCAS to prevent near-misses.

The second-hand journalist's sad attempts at sensationalism don't change the passenger's original story, which he posted himself. He experienced a sudden and abrupt evasive maneuver by a commercial aircraft, which the crew later confirmed as a near-miss alerted by TCAS.
preacher1
Well, nobody said it couldn't be dangerous, but I'd rather have that than a mid air. In an update to the story off one of the News networks, it was an ATC error, human error, that caused the conflict and apparently both pilots were following ATC instructions when TCAS jumped in for the avoidance.
NSGDC
This happened to me last month in ZTL airspace. One controller cleared me to 230 as he's handing me off (I later find out he doesn't own the space below 240). Handoff occurs, I check in with the new controller and add leaving 250 for 230. New controller doesn't catch the fact that I'm descending to 230, but calls RJ traffic at my 9/10 o'clock (without giving me an altitude). My wing was blocking my view, but when I see him, he looks close. My traffic alarm goes off, as I'm about to check for his altitude he calls out to ask if I'm descending. All becomes clear to the controller in an instant, he cancels clearance to 230 (I had stopped my descent when traffic was in sight) and puts me at 240 (which by now I have to immediately climb to). The RJ was at 230. Had to call ZTL when I got on the ground, but they had already listened to the tapes and figured everything out. The one thing I could have done and do now, is get an altitude if none is given on a traffic call. ATC procedures don't require it, but it'll be my practice. Weather was VMC, I was at 250 and under ATC controller ---just not a situation where I'm thinking midair.
mdlacey
Sounds like FAA needs to mandate that altitude be a part of traffic calls.
captainjman
unfortunately no matter what we do, whether it be a knee jerk reaction or well though out - there will still be errors.. There will always be accidents.... some are just inevitable and no amount of regulation will help. In many cases there were regulations in place already that would have prevented a crash - like that CRJ in KLEX, there are supposed to be two controllers (one looking at the aircraft out the window) - and the one controller cleared the plane for take off with his back turned to the plane - he never even saw them. Is that HIS fault? No, but it contributed. If they just followed the rules it wouldn't have happened.... and yet, two very experienced pilots took off from that short runway.... I get nervous when people start chanting for regulations or procedural changes without further study. - not attacking you- just saying
boughbw
I love the stock footage of the United "757" they kept showing. It isn't just this outlet, but several have shown 737s, 747s, 767s, and even the 787 in United colors as stand-ins for the 757 that was involved.
Interestingly, there is little to no discussion of the US Airways flight and whether anything happened with them.
pawsnursery47
Ditto that. Things like that drive me nuts. Would it be so hard for them to make sure they were showing the correct aircraft?
ddgeorge44
According to the CBC report in my duplicate squawk below, US Airways climbed. Didn't say how steeply.
bishops90
If I read the story correctly, the reporter who wrote the essay was the pax. The article writer simply mirrored his ineptitude.. I acknowledged your point about communication, so cut me some slack. We don't know why or even if anyone was at the wrong altitude at this point (one can assume, but then......). Only that someone made such a huge deal out of "evasive action" it wa almost "the worst air disaster in history". More like somebody starved for attention if you ask me.
WithnailANDi
Sometime you ought to try having the airplane floor drop out from under you when you're holding a pot full of hot coffee, and end up slammed on your ass on the floor when the plane stops descending. Then tell me about how it's not a big deal. Then try rolling a 200 pound cart full of hot and cold drinks down a tiny aisle, and watch as it rises and hits the ceiling as the plane floor drops out from under you, and tell me that the screaming passengers were just starved for attention. Been there, done that, and it IS a big deal.
preacher1
In defense of everybody, at least the flight crews, you just normally don't expect such crap as that at FL330. I would probably be pissed too, although much better to be pissed and slightly injured than being a statistic. When you get the warning in the pointy end, you got to move and generally don't have time to tell everybody to sit down and buckle tight.
bishops90
I understand all that, and can relate. I didn't say it was fun, but it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Can it be avoided, sure, is it unpleasant, sure, but in any career there are things that just come with the territory. Just saying it's a far cry from how it was portrayed. Sorry if you got offended. Chill.
daerico
I'd personally rather get bounced around in back with hot coffee spilling then a midair collision at altitude. I agree with Brian. In the grand scheme of things this was a traffic conflict that occurred out over open water, and the technology did its job.
joelwiley
Welcome to the boards. You add an interesting perspective. Re: your bounce- light casualties are never light to the casualties. Your comments on the reporter show an attitude rather common around here. It will be interesting to see what the FAA does with this.
just one of the walk-on cargo.
btweston
btweston 1
Well someone must have been at the wrong flight level, no?
rlt7020
This happened last month? If this was the harrowing event as depicted, surely more passengers would have vocalized their fright. I don't get that...
preacher1
I have to wonder big time about it being a month ago.
thecohorts
This reminds me of the story a few months ago about the southwest flight that nosedived over north Carolina. The stories read that people were flaring in midair and passengers thought they were going to die. It turned out that the aircraft was descending to meet an atc crossing restriction and never exceeded 2300fpm. People a are always looking for their 5 minutes of fame and this is no different
preacher1
Yeah, and National news this morning was reporting another ATC error at IAH between 2 UAL's but controller caught it in time and blocked a turn for one. If it hadn't been on the news, nobody would have know about it except ATC and flight crews. It appears the airlines/ATC is back in the sights of everyone until something else happens.
michelbossu
non-event story : 1st the collision did NOT occured, 2nd the TCAS worked properly avoiding the other traffic by descending 600ft/mn which is NOT a "steep dive"
Nevertheless it will be interesting to find what appended with the ground control...
richsmit
The UAL pilot over-responded to a normal "RVSM" event. Both aircraft were at their assigned altitudes 1000' apart as allowed under newer RVSM rules. TOTALLY, LEGALLY, SEPERATED. For some reason, UAL thought there was a loss of separation and dived (at only 300 fpm, not much of a "dive"). The passenger over-reacted and the news organizations sensationalized a non-event. NTSB is gathering the facts, but it looks like pilot error, not ATC.

[This comment was deleted.]

bovineone
The flight track data from FlightAware, for reference... http://flightaware.com/live/flight/UAL1205/history/20140425/2235Z/PHKO/KLAX/tracklog
pilot62
NOW THIS IS THE FUNNY PART !!!

The FAA declined to comment on the near-collision, but said in a statement it will investigate and try to prevent it from happening again.

He could be a little closer to the number, 540
United only flys 4 digit flight numbers by former Continnetal crews with 757-300's
to HNL...
DFlorian
Surprised it had to be such an aggressive avoidance. I'm guessing if the TCAS system was working correctly that the system would have ID the intruder aircraft via its transponder system. Is it possible that one of the aircraft was at a wrong altitude as they are separated in RVSM by 1,000ft and 60NM laterally for that route. Also what happened with the TA before they took command by the RA. Just seems like there is more to this than is being shared.
oaktwr
Altitude log from FlightAware for UAL1205 on April 25 (PHKO-KLAX):

16:15 21.1167 -152.3500 62° Northeast 540 621 33,000
16:16 21.1833 -152.2000 64° Northeast 530 610 32,400
16:18 21.3167 -151.9333 62° Northeast 500 575 32,700
16:19 21.4000 -151.7667 62° Northeast 480 552 33,000

Altitude log from FlightAware for AWE663 on April 25 (KPHX-PHKO):

16:15 21.2500 -152.2833 250° West 390 449 34,000
16:16 21.2167 -152.4000 253° West 390 449 34,000
16:17 21.1833 -152.5167 253° West 390 449 34,000
16:18 21.1500 -152.6167 250° West 400 460 34,000
16:19 21.1167 -152.7333 253° West 400 460 34,000

Methinks the UAL pilots overreacted to an aircraft that was actually 1,000 feet above them. Welcome to RVSM.

In any event the whole thing lasted four minutes and UAL's rate of descent never exceeded 300FPM. Some passenger with an overactive imagination is stirring things up - this is much ado about nothing.
PhotoFinish
Actually you can't get a reliable instantaneous rate of descent from data points a minute apart for an incident like a dive of at least 600 feet that lasts less than a minute, especially when the dive was only caught by ONE data point. All the readings in the minutes prior, the plane was still at cruise altitude. In the minute following, the plane was already climbing back to its' original altitude.

What you can tell is that the rate of descent was at least 600 feet per minute for a period of time less than a minute. The shorter the time of dive duration, the faster the rate of descent.

If the 600+ft dive happened in 30 seconds, than the rate if descent was at least 1200 feet per minute.
If the 600+ft dive happened in 15 seconds, than the rate of descent was at least 2400 feet per minute.

You can't tell from the FA data alone which of the above rates of descent was closest to accurately describing the dive and its' impact on passengers and cabin crew.

Thanks for looking up the data.

But that -300 rate is from averaging that dive over 2 minutes (at least one full minute of which was at cruise altitude, likely much more than one minute).

Getting a combibed average descent rate of 15 seconds of 600 feet of dive combined with the 105 seconds of steady flight immediately prior to the dive, tells you little. That average descent rate of -300 wouldn't adequately reflect a drop of 600 feet in 15 seconds which would actually ve a descent rate of -2400.*

Big difference. Especially when unexpected, at cruise altitude during food and beverage service.

* the actual rate of descent is unknowable to outsiders without the airplane/airline/ATC data. It could be even higher than the above examples. Eg. If that 600 ft drop happened in 6 seconds, that would be a 6000 feet per minutes descent rate.

So is it
-300 fpm?
-1200 fpm?
-2400 fpm?
-6000 fpm?

Each of these would be experienced extremely differently by the crew and passengers. All are possible according to the FA data provided. The only limits are the laws of physics and how fast the pilot can push the controls forward. With TCAS warnings infrequent at altitude, if the warning was as unexpected for the flight crew, if the pilot is actually trying to avoid a midair, the pilot may choose to push harder for a faster descent rather than worry about passenger crew comfort for those few seconds. Better flustered for a few seconds and alive, than comfortable to the end but killed instantaneously in a mid air collission.
PhotoFinish
Actually -300 fpm descent rate for dive is not possible. The dive was at least 600 feet and lasted likely less than a minute suggesting a descent rate for dive of at least -600 fpm.
joelwiley
Sounds more and more like someone is developing a case of "pain and suffering"....
preacher1
Well, if they were 1000' vertical, why did the TCAS sound in the first place?

oaktwr
I may have the wrong call sign - some news reports are saying it is AWE432. Here is the altitude log from FlightAware for AWE432 on April 25 (KPHX-PHOG):

16:16 21.2000 -152.1333 242° Southwest 390 449 33,000
16:17 21.1500 -152.2500 245° Southwest 420 483 33,000
16:18 21.1231 -152.3448 242° Southwest 458 527 33,000
16:19 21.0694 -152.4542 242° Southwest 458 527 33,000

Seems odd that AWE didn't also take evasive maneuvers. I'm wondering if the news even has the right aircraft call sign.
choppbobby
In a situation like this how do each flight crew know what evasive action to take? What if both of them went up at the same time for instance?
preacher1
Your TCAS will determine that, based off the transponders on both aircraft regarding direction, speed, altitude and all that.
choppbobby
Thank you for the explanation.
Cactus732
I think we can all agree that the writer has sensationalized this story somewhat. However, that does not mean that it shouldn't be investigated. I know TCAS is designed to work as it did, but an RA should be a last resort NOT a first response. US432 had been flying westbound on R578 (a bi-directional airway) for 2 hours at FL330 before UA1205 even took-off, let alone before it was cleared to join the same airway at FL330 in the opposite direction. Even though it wouldn't have been the most deadly aviation accident in history, any aviation accident is worth taking steps to prevent.
preacher1
In an update to the story, one of the networks was reporting that it was ATC error, and you are correct as far as last resort goes. It is strange there was no report of happening by anybody at the time and here we are a month after fact.
tcmarks
Another sensationalist journalist reporting on an aviation event that he has no clue of what actually happened....and a descent rate of less than 300fpm is not a nose dive mr. prissy stomach. I'll bet he has never been on a roller coaster ride in his life, with a maximum of plus 1.80G and negative 0.40g, he would likely pass out from the violent forces! Go back to writing about gardening or the local library.
k1mgy
Who fell asleep? Who busted altitude? Or, was it ATC assigning a conflict? Worth probing, regardless the over-hype.
7802mark
Mark Holm -1
Anytime TCAS requires evasive action represents a failure of the ATC system. If ATC worked reliably, TCAS would be unnecessary.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
It could also be a failure of the pilot system. Pilot deviation in non-radar, where TCAS could save the day!!!
Slytiger
Slytiger 1
That is not true. When you are running 700ft parallel finals with cessnas/archers on one and G5's on the other there are multiple TCAS alerts. It all depends on the airport/airspace and situation.
boughbw
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Near-Miss on Kona-Los Angeles Flight

A United 757 went into a dive to avoid hitting a US Airways 757 flying in the opposite direction on the same path.

http://news.yahoo.com/passenger-describes-moment-plane-plunged-hundreds-feet-avoid-232744029--abc-news-topstories.html
ddgeorge44
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

United and US Airways in near miss east of Hawaii

Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System proves its worth, as two 757s avoid colliding at 33,000 feet.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/airliners-nearly-collided-in-midair-east-of-hawaii-1.2645051?cmp=rss

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