Planes Nearly Collide at Hong Kong Airport

Two planes with almost 300 people on board came within 500 feet of each other shortly after takeoff from Hong Kong, airline officials said.

Two air traffic controllers have been suspended pending an inquiry into the incident on Aug. 8 involving a Dragonair Airbus A321 flying to Beijing and a China Southern Airlines Boeing 757 on a flight to Guangzhou.

“Both pilots had the other aircraft in sight,” said the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department referring to the incident which occurred at 10,000 feet.

“There was a loss of separation between two departing aircraft.”

Catastrophe Averted

At their closest, the vertical distance between the two aircaft was 500 feet instead of the standard 1,000 feet, the department said.

Hong Kong-based Dragonair confirmed that the Traffic Collision Avoidance System on the Airbus was activated.

“The captain responded by taking appropriate action in line with operational procedure and the A321 aircraft continued its journey to Beijing without incident,” the Hong Kong-based carrier said.

Concerns about safety at Hong Kong’s two-year-old airport at Chek Lap Kok off Lantau island were raised in May when a government report said there were more incidents than at the old airport at Kai Tak.

Last August a China Airlines MD-11 crashed while landing at Chek Lap Kok during a typhoon, killing three people.