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Sat, May 26, 2007

C-130, CRJ Involved In Close Call On HNL Runways

Military Plane Fails To Heed 'Hold Short' Directive

An errant C-130 came a little too close for comfort to a go! Airlines CRJ-200 passenger jet taking off from Honolulu International Airport Thursday. It is the second runway incursion at HNL in less than six months.

"I've seen other incidents throughout my career but this was by far the closest," air traffic controller Thom Gurule said. "I hate the term 'near miss.' This was a 'near hit.' I don't want to see anything any closer."

The C-130 had just landed on Runway 4 Right, according to air traffic controller Scott Sorenson, and nosed toward the path of a go! CRJ-200 taking off on Runway 8 Left.

FAA regional spokesman Ian Gregor said the C-130 crossed the "hold bars" and was only 110 feet from the runway edge "but didn't intrude onto the runway itself."

The C-130 pilot was based out of Japan, Gurule said.

Gurule instructed the C-130 pilot -- twice -- to "exit at Taxiway Echo, turn left, cross Runway 4 Left, then turn left on Taxiway Bravo, which runs parallel to Taxiway 8 Left," Gregor said. "But the C-130 pilot didn't make the left turn on Taxiway B. He kept going straight on, heading straight toward Runway 8, where the regional jet was on its take-off."

Gurule looked up and saw the C-130 had not turned onto Taxiway B as instructed, but was now on the roll directly in the path of the oncoming go! Jet -- which he had just given permission to take off.

The C-130 pilot "was definitely in a very dangerous place to be," said Gurule as the go! pilot was rapidly approaching "past the point of no return."

Gurule said he just yelled at the C-130 pilot to "hold your position"... and this time he did as instructed.

Sorenson said Gurule "didn't have two seconds or one second to think. It was a split-second, gut reaction to yell out to stop the pilot. Had he waited one or two seconds longer, we would definitely be talking about a different set of circumstances."

After the go! Jet took off directly in front of the C-130; Gurule said "There was a slight moment of silence. I asked Air Shuttle 1018, 'Are you OK?' You could tell the pilot was absolutely shaken up. His response was, 'It was a little crazy for a second but we're OK.' Then he was concerned that maybe he did something wrong. His question to me was, 'I was cleared for take-off, wasn't I?'"

Gurule said he then directed the C-130 pilot to contact the tower about a possible "pilot deviation" but has had no further contact with him.

Hickam Air Force Base shares runways with the Honolulu airport and neither they nor the FAA could confirm which branch of the military the C-130 pilot flies for, according to the Advertiser. Hickam spokeswoman Lt. Melanie McLean said the C-130 involved is not based at Hickam and the base's Safety Office is investigating.

According to McLean, the Safety Office "thought it was minor in nature. They said the aircraft and the pilots were in no danger."

Gregor said the FAA ranks runway incursions from "A", a crash or near collision, to "D," a technical violation. The last incident in Honolulu in December 2006 was rated a "D."

FMI: www.honoluluairport.com, www.faa.gov

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