FAA probes near collision between JAL, UPS planes over Hawaii

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  • -10

    some14some

    Jan.14 incident being reported by JT now, just when people are having Golden Week holidays and one bus accident (two days ago) has already scared the nation? couldn''t wait till next week?

  • 8

    yildiray

    It was reported back then, this is an update to the story... I don't think the FAA works around golden week dates so it can't be helped lol!

  • 1

    Weasel

    ...assigned him to skill enhancement retraining.

    A bit of a glorified way of saying the worker got s-canned, and is now working as the janitor.

  • -4

    Elbuda Mexicano

    This whole news sounds really, really strange! How in the hell can they let 2 huge planes come so close to each other!! The JAL and UPS folk are all very lucky to be alive!

  • 2

    Serrano

    According to this article, the two aircraft came no closer to each other than 3.2 kilometers.
    I believe there have been many instances of aircraft coming much closer than that.

  • 1

    Badge213

    This is probably a case where both pilots followed TCAS instructions and avoided each other.

  • -4

    Ch1n4Sailor

    shows the worker didn’t believe he was ready to direct aircraft and had asked for more training.

    Oh, they will be able to get all the training their heart desires, while they're looking for a new job. You see that's what they do in the U.S., when you screw up, they fire you, they don't reprimand you, they don't just tell you not to do it again, they fire you, PERIOD.

    jets came within 300 feet (90 meters) vertically and under two miles (3.2 kilometers) horizontally.

    This is probably the reason, no reputable news sources are running the story, because 3.2 kilometers is not exactly a "Near-Miss." I think JT is just out to get some shock value...

    Now those two JAL planes about 10 years ago, now that was a near miss.

  • 2

    wipeout

    This is probably the reason, no reputable news sources are running the story, because 3.2 kilometers is not exactly a "Near-Miss." I think JT is just out to get some shock value...

    Do you know the direction and speed of each aircraft? Or what each was doing at the time (climbing, descending, turning).

    The point of calling an incident a near miss even when they are separated by what look like large distances is that three kilometers between aircraft can be closed in a few seconds. If aircraft are issued incorrect instructions by ATC, it is dangerous. ATC is there to keep them completely separated, not send them on course for each other.

    The term near miss as it applies to aviation is nothing to do with what your or my idea of two aircraft almost hitting each other should look like.

    This is how the aviation authority describes it in the UK:

    'Aircraft Proximity Hazard' (Airprox) is the industry term for what is commonly referred to as a 'near miss'. ...An Airprox is a situation in which, in the opinion of a pilot or a controller, the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved was or may have been compromised.

    On the off chance that anyone does want to know what happened, there's a more detailed story here:

    http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/17945497/close-call-cover-up-faa-not-notified-jets-outside-honolulu-were-on-collision-course

  • -1

    Ch1n4Sailor

    Do you know the direction and speed of each aircraft? Or what each was doing at the time (climbing, descending, turning).

    No I do not know the exact speed or direction of either one of these aircraft, but I'm reasonably certain I could make an educated guess that would be pretty close, even by aviation standards.

    The point being, 3.2 is NOT a Near Miss, while it doesn't happen everyday, It happens more frequently than you are probably aware of, and Yes it's still kind of a Big Deal, And NO it's NOT what most pilots would call a NEAR MISS.

    A Near Miss is having a 747 fill up your windscreen, and living to tell about it.

    Yes, it still falls under the classification of a "Serious Incident," but so does a passenger who refuses to turn off their Iphone, and the plane is taxied back to the gate!

  • 2

    oikawa

    Ch1n4Sailor

    I think the point you're missing is that 3.2 km is completely different depending on whether the aircraft were for example flying parallel with each other, in which case I would agree that wouldn't be too much cause for alarm, or if they were flying head on towards each other, in which case the distance would be covered in a matter of seconds by two jetliners and would probably be irreversible. Seeing as it has been called a near-miss I think it's assumed it was nearer the flying towards each scenario.

  • 2

    oikawa

    Also, this was the US and the worker did not even get disciplined, let alone fired.

  • 1

    Laguna

    Thanks for the link, Wipeout. Debate on whether this deserves to be called a "near miss" has focused on the distances between the planes; the article contained this gem: "Bruce Mayes, an aircraft safety expert who's flown military and commercial aircraft for 40 years, ... said, 'This is a serious incident because anytime you have two aircraft trying to occupy the same airspace at the same time, it's a recipe for catastrophe.'" Yeah, I'd say. Pilots have a lot on their plate, are viewing their airspace through a limiting window, and do not have adequate information of the overall situation to make decisions like this, especially in a congested area so close to the airport. The problem is not the distance; the problem is the loss of control: "luck" is not something you desire as a factor in your safe landing.

    The article mainly focused on what seems to be a dysfunctional management environment at FAA Honolulu. The FAA is known to have a contentious relationship with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) - this dates back to the "illegal" strike by this Union's predecessor back during the Reagan administration. Without taking a position, I would suggest that developing and maintaining air traffic controllers of the highest caliber is something anyone who flies or tends to be in the path of airplanes should support.

    Wikipedia notes this:

    In order to maintain or increase the number of air traffic controllers, the FAA is hiring hundreds of trainees and offering cash bonuses to veteran controllers to entice them to stay beyond their retirement date, but numbers remain low. The Union believes that the decreasing proportion of veteran controllers to new controllers will result in the overworking of veteran leaders, incomplete training of many new controllers, and the increased likelihood of a catastrophic mistake.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Air_Traffic_Controllers_Association

  • 3

    Frank Vaughn

    There is much going on here. The FAA is short of controllers because all the veteran controllers who replaced the striking controllers 30 years ago have all pretty much reached their mandatory retirement age (56) and even though the FAA knew this was going to happen they didn't start seriously recruiting until the last minute. Why? because they are only allowed just so many controllers on the books so they had to wait for space to open up for new hires. Also a source of controllers for the FAA was the U.S. military, but to save money the military started using civilian controllers, so that pipeline all but dried up. Then when I left the recruitment drive was falling on it's face because the director of the FAA five years ago decided that all controllers were way overpaid and reduced the maximum pay ( I do not know if this is still the case). Add to that a draconian management and it is becoming hard to staff the big and busy places.

    In my time in the FAA if a controller felt that he/she was not ready they did not have to sign the certification sheet. So if you ask me that controller was just trying to cover his own butt by saying he asked for more training. Also his supervisor must have believed he could do it or he/she wouldn't have signed off either and YES there are minimum standards that must be met, the FAA is telling the truth about putting the safety of the flying public first. For those of you who think he should have been fired, sorry not going to happen, the worse thing is he will be sent to a smaller airport, but only if he has 3 near misses in 2 years otherwise he stays where he is at and just receives remedial training for the incident. About the only way to be fired is to cause a death (or be caught doing drugs or other serious misconduct).

    The Union believes that the decreasing proportion of veteran controllers to new controllers will result in the overworking of veteran leaders, incomplete training of many new controllers, and the increased likelihood of a catastrophic mistake

    Please keep in mind that the controllers union (NATCA) does NOT accept incomplete training of any controller!

    Let me finish by saying that both the pilots and controllers all over the world do an excellent job. .

  • -1

    Mad money

    Some one was sleeping

  • 1

    Fadamor

    Jan.14 incident being reported by JT now, just when people are having Golden Week holidays and one bus accident (two days ago) has already scared the nation? couldn''t wait till next week?

    It's a new Associated Press (AP) story that JT is simply relaying. The information was finally released after a newspaper filed a FOIA ("Freedom of Information Act") request with the FAA. Japan's holidays have nothing to do with it.

    This is probably the reason, no reputable news sources are running the story, because 3.2 kilometers is not exactly a "Near-Miss." I think JT is just out to get some shock value...

    Again, this is an AP article, not a JT article. The FAA defines any two aircraft that get within 1000 feet vertically and 3 miles horizontally as a "near miss". This isn't JT's terminology, it's the Federal Aviation Administration's.

    If both planes are flying on the same heading, there's usually time to make corrections, but two planes on converging headings can make a 3-mile cushion disappear in less than 20 seconds. That's a near miss. It's good to see that the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) worked as designed in this instance.

    I've done the ATC simulator thing on my PC and even using the "light traffic" setting and directing virtual aircraft, the task was making me break out in a sweat. I have no doubt this controller was feeling stressed by the responsibility. There's no reason why he should be fired. He knew he was overwhelmed and asked for additional training but was put in the seat anyway. This isn't his fault so much as it is his superiors who decided his additional training could wait for a "better time".

    In my time in the FAA if a controller felt that he/she was not ready they did not have to sign the certification sheet. So if you ask me that controller was just trying to cover his own butt by saying he asked for more training. Also his supervisor must have believed he could do it or he/she wouldn't have signed off either

    So you acknowledge that there is an increasing shortage of qualified controllers due to mandatory retirement, yet discount the possibility of management saying, "Yes, I see you've requested additional training, but we need you to start working shifts NOW." We can guess at what actually happened all day, but there is one irrefutable fact: The controller DID need additional training/evaluation and management failed to provide it before putting passengers at risk. Whether that failure is due to negligence or just a failure of the FAA's evaluation process, I can't say.

  • 0

    Frank Vaughn

    Fadamor I've been off the "boards" for 5 years now and PERHAPS the FAA management certified someone before he was ready, but if he truly felt he was NOT ready it was his responsibility to the flying public to refuse and I know NATCA would have backed him up. And yes the TCAS did work as designed. I'm glad you think you have experienced what our job is like through your PC, believe me it is a lot more intense. I do need to make one correction though.

    The FAA defines any two aircraft that get within 1000 feet vertically and 3 miles horizontally as a "near miss". This isn't JT's terminology, it's the Federal Aviation Administration's

    According to the Controller's handbook the 7110.65 that is the absolute minimum separation required between two aircraft. Altitude Ch. 4-5-1-a, radar distance Ch. 5-5-4-a-1. (www.faa.gov/atpubs). There are also two loss of separation categories. One is less than 100% but equal or greater than 80%. And the other is of course less than 80% which is what happened in Hawaii.

    The one sure thing is that there is plenty of blame to go around.

  • 1

    sfjp330

    The airport is very outdated and with over 300,000 annual flights coming in and going, the accidents are imminent. The Honolulu International Airport is in severe need of a makeover, both from safety, service and appearance standpoint. HNL does the job, but it could use improvements. It is clearly understaffed both by the airlines and TSA. It's an old airport and travel has grown incrementally over the years yet the airport itself has stayed relatively the same.

  • -1

    Christopher Blackwell

    Nice to know that when you air controller is otherwise occupied, or panicking, that the polots are still on duty, if they are not napping.

  • -1

    Serrano

    "near miss"

    If you nearly miss each other, you have made contact, no?

  • 0

    Frank Vaughn

    sfjp330 You are correct about outdated airports and it's not just HNL but nearly every other airport in the U.S. if not the world. Only two exceptions come to mind right now, Narita there in Tokyo and Denver International in the U.S. both are relatively new and were designed with high levels of traffic in mind. That flying commercially is the safest way to travel proves that controllers and pilots are both dedicated and well trained and they understand the limitations of each airport.

    Christopher Controllers don't have time to panic, we have "Oh S**t" moments and then when it's done we have 5 minutes of PTSD. As for pilots taking a nap, that only happens at altitude when the aircraft is on auto pilot. JUST KIDDING, a controller who panics is relieved of duty if not his job and any pilot caught napping IS relieved of his license and by default his job.

    Serrano A near miss is anything less the "standard separation" (varies by location and segment of flight) but not making contact. Contact is an accident and 99% of the time in flight it is catastrophic.

    I would also like to encourage any one interested about ATC in the U.S. to go to their local airport and request a tour of the Control Tower. I'm sorry but I do not know if that is allowed in Japan.

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