Military cargo plane and passenger jet nearly collide in Honolulu

Posted on: Friday, May 25, 2007

It’s close call for C-130, go! jet

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

A C-130 military cargo plane came close to crossing the path of a go! passenger jet taking off from Honolulu International Airport at about 100 mph, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

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

It was the second “runway incursion” since December at Honolulu International Airport, according to the FAA.

The C-130 pilot had just landed on Runway 4 Right and pointed the nose of his C-130 toward the path of a go! Bombardier jet taking off on Runway 8 Left, said FAA regional spokesman Ian Gregor and air traffic controller Scott Sorenson.

The pilot crossed the “hold bars” – the lines on the taxiway – and was only 110 feet from the runway edge, Gregor said, “but didn’t intrude onto the runway itself.”

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

Neither the FAA nor Hickam Air Force Base, which shares runways with the Honolulu airport, could confirm which branch of the military the C-130 pilot flies for. Hickam spokeswoman Lt. Melanie McLean said the C-130 involved is not based at Hickam.

C-130s are flown by the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, McLean said.

She added that Hickam’s Safety Office is investigating the incident.

The Safety Office “thought it was minor in nature,” she said. “They said the aircraft and the pilots were in no danger.”



Honolulu airport had two runway incursions in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1, 2006, and three in the year to Oct. 1, 2005, Gregor said.

The FAA lists the latest runway incursion as occurring on Sunday. But air traffic controller Gurule said it was definitely 7:44 p.m. Saturday night.

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

He twice gave the pilot instructions 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.”

The go! jet – known as Air Shuttle 1018 – was pointed in the diamondhead direction of Runway 8 and had just gotten permission from Gurule to take off.

Gurule then looked up just in time to see that the C-130 had not turned onto Taxiway B and instead was on the makai side of the runway facing the terminals – rolling directly into the path of the oncoming go! jet.


Gurule said the C-130 pilot “was definitely in a very dangerous place to be.” The go! pilot was bearing down “past the point of no return,” Gurule said.

Gurule said he yelled at the C-130 pilot to “hold your position. … And he just stopped abruptly.”

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.”

Air Shuttle 1018 then lifted into the air in front of the C-130 and a nervous pilot came on the radio.

“There was a slight moment of silence,” Gurule said. “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 then directed the C-130 pilot to contact the tower about a possible “pilot deviation” and had no further contact with him.

The FAA continues to investigate the incident.

Reach Dan Nakaso at


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