Two planes on the runway! ATC error behind Hong Kong 2017 incident

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The Air Accident Investigation Authority (AAIA) of Hong Kong said a controller’s lapse in concentration was behind a serious incident in 2017, when two planes almost collided at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). 

According to the final incident report, released on June 30, 2022, a Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330-343 passenger jet registered B-LNU was cleared for takeoff from runway 07R in the late hours of December 23, 2017, when another plane, a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-867F freighter registered B-LJK , was crossing the far end of the same runway. 

The investigators determined that it was a failure of the HKG airport Air Traffic Control (ATC) staff, who cleared the flight crew of both aircraft to proceed with their operations despite the fact that the action took place at the same runway.  

The incident, while classed as serious, did not result in a fatal  event thanks to the pilots of the Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, who managed to notice the Airbus A330 on time and immediately notified the ATC that the passenger plane was still crossing the runway. 

The controllers then instructed the flight crew of the Airbus A330 jet to abort the takeoff and the jet came to a stop after rolling less than 200 meters. The closest the two aircraft came to each other was 3,000 meters. 

“The inappropriate [ATC] instruction was the result of a momentary lapse of situational awareness caused by distraction,” the report states.  

Fortunately, none of the planes were damaged and none of the passengers were injured. While the Airbus A330 was carrying 255 passengers and 12 crew members on board, there were only three crew members on board the Boeing 747 freighter. 


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