Terrifying UAL Near-Miss at Honolulu Risked Catastrophy Per FAA

United Airlines had a previously unreported near-miss At Honolulu Airport that was brought to the public’s attention by the FAA today. The Federal Aviation Administration’s acting administrator said that an industry safety summit is now being called for March, based partly on the airline near-miss that took place at Honolulu Airport (HNL).

FAA’s Billy Nolen announced the review as well as a National Transporation Safety Board investigation into the incident that took place in January. It is the third recent near-catastrophic miss, with the other two incidents occurring in New York and Texas.

United Airlines Honolulu runway incursion leads to NTSB investigation.

The NTSB will investigate the January 23, 2023 incident in which a UAL Boeing 777 widebody jet crossed the runway at HNL that a Kamaka Air cargo plane was in the process of landing on. The other aircraft was a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. Grand Caravans are standard passenger and cargo planes at Hawaii’s airports and are also used extensively by Mokulele Airlines.

Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent. Now is the time to stare into the data and ask hard questions. — FAA Acting Director.

This comes after the House Transportation committee last week expressed its concerns about the FAA’s management and safety issues. The FAA is currently without an official agency head, pending senate confirmation.

The FAA safety summit will take place in March and brings together industry leaders, including airline unions. FAA said this is needed as safety controls “appear to be not as effective as they once were.”

In the meantime, NTSB’s Peter Knudson said that the runway incursion at HNL presented a “significant risk of a catastrophic outcome.” The other two incidents also fell into that category.

NTSB will investigate Maui flight that came within 750′ of impacting the Pacific Ocean.

At the same time, it was announced that NTSB will look into the UAL 777 that dove to within 750′ of impacting the ocean following takeoff from Maui. The FAA previously investigated the incident but didn’t provide any reporting thereon. The details of that incident will soon also come to light.

The NTSB plans to issue a preliminary report on the Maui event within two to three weeks. NTSB will interrogate UAL prior to deciding on a formal investigation launch.

The other two recent near misses.

The FAA is investigating the near miss that took place at JFK earlier this month when two airliners nearly collided on the runway. One of the aircraft aborted takeoff while traveling more than 100 mph. The American Airlines plane crossed a runway without permission. A Delta Airlines plane was in the process of taking off at that exact time.

The American pilots “refused to be interviewed” about the incident according to the NTSB, as they did not wish their statements to be recorded. NTSB said recording interviews is a “longstanding practice” however. Delt provided written statements to NTSB.


What are runway incursions?

A runway incursion is anytime there is an incorrect presence of an aircraft (in this case) on the runway. The federal government says that there are four types of such incidents:

  • Category A is a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided.
  • Category B is an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time-critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.
  • Category C is an incident characterized by ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.
  • Category D is an incident that meets the definition of runway incursion, such as incorrect presence of a single vehicle/person/aircraft on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft but with no immediate safety consequences.

The FAA has not said which category the UAL Honolulu incident fits in. But their characterization is that of it having catastrophic potential.

This is a developing story. Please check back.

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11 thoughts on “Terrifying UAL Near-Miss at Honolulu Risked Catastrophy Per FAA”

  1. How scary. I haven’t flown since 1997 because of 3 bad flights like that. I have been thinking of finally getting on a plane to visit Hawaii next year but have changed my mind after seeing this on TV and reading about it. With more people on Rx drugs like Oxy how do we know the pilots aren’t under the influence is another thought.

  2. Hi. – Thanks for all your great information! Flew on United from LAX – HNL for the first time after many Hawaiian Air trips. Had a good experience & their food for purchase was far superior to Hawaiian’s free “food”. Their snack boxes for $10 were very good and didn’t mind paying for quality. Hawaiian really needs to step up & offer more quality products to start & finish a vacation on a happy note. Stayed at the Royal Hawaiian which was great! Thanks again- Andy

    1. Hi Andy.

      Thanks so much for your feedback and your many other comments. We’re glad to hear the things went well.


  3. Beginning several months ago there has been problems of this, and other, kinds that previously were almost unheard of, Rare. All too often there’s a “rush” to judgment in blaming the Pilots, what if this is not the case at all but subterfuge? From the beginning I have been of the Belief that “Hacking” is responsible, that was partially proven true with the discovery of “Corrupted” files and the arrest of 2 airport workers, what if this wasn’t the end of the problem? Only time, near calamities, and thorough investigating can unravel this. Unsurprisingly the 3 major airports involved, so far, are involved with East Coast to Hawaii travel, when will others fall prey? Wait and See isn’t appropriate in this debacle, is it Terror Related?

  4. Again pilot here in recent months after covid there’s been quite a spike of private and commercial air traffic.

    Speaking to flight instructors they’re seeing an increased interest by citizens becoming private pilots. I’ve also noticed the increase in air traffic.

    I’m finding that air traffic controllers are feeling stressed by increase air traffic you can hear it in their voices. So I’m not surprised by the increase of air incidents and surprised that we aren’t seeing more of them.

    Also it would be interesting to know how many senior air traffic controllers retired during the pandemic.

  5. I think this will likely come out as either ATC told United to hold short and they didn’t (United made a mistake)or ATC failed to do so an the mistake would be on them. Don’t think there is anything other then this is a simple human mistake and perhaps it would be a little premature to read into anything else.

  6. Hmmm United seems to have a number of near misses…what about the December UAL flight from Maui and the plane dropped several thousand feet to 800 foot level?

  7. Seems to me that we’re far enough along the radar, visual and radio journey to be able to avoid this kind of thing. If someone (think the government) is thinking they can successfully accommodate more traffic with fewer air traffic controllers, well, I’ll just point to a dozen or so government failures over just the past 2 weeks to say I have no faith in them.

    1. Not really anything to do with radar. Either the Tower gave clearance to cross the Live Runway or they did not. If they did, then we have to ask what caused that, if they did not we have to ask why the UAL flight entered a live runway without clearance. Then we have to see if the landing aircraft had been final clearance to land on that runway or not. I am wondering if it is related to confusion over runway closures and changes.

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