The traffic and collision avoidance systems (TCAS) in the cockpits of a Japan Airlines Boeing 767 and a UPS MD-11 helped both crews avert a head-on collision 15 nautical miles west of Honolulu International Airport on January 14.
The radar controller working the airspace, who was handling eight other aircraft at the same time, had recently been certified to work air traffic alone. An FAA spokesman said the airliners came within 300 feet vertically of each other and within 1.6 nautical miles horizontally.
The incident only became public last week, after an unnamed person inside the Honolulu ATC facility informed the media that the FAA manager on duty during the incident, Bob Rabideau, had failed to report the close call. Rabideau, the Hawaii Air Traffic District Manager at the time, was placed on administrative leave in February. A short time later he chose to retire.
In a statement, the FAA told AIN, “As soon as we learned of this incident, we took quick and decisive action. We pulled the controller off operational duties and assigned him to skill-enhancement retraining. An acting manager will oversee the facility’s operations, while the FAA selects a permanent replacement for the former manager.”
The FAA said it has also taken specific steps to ensure any future events are reported in a timely manner.