Topic of the Week: Have You Experienced Evasive Action?

Lots of talk this week about the near-miss between a Spirit aircraft and a skydiving airplane. The Spirit pilot did everything right and descended quickly to get away from the other airplane. Have you ever been in that kind of situation before where an aircraft makes a quick descent or goes into a rapid climb to avoid an accident? What was it like?

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37 Comments on "Topic of the Week: Have You Experienced Evasive Action?"

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Dale
Guest

Yes! In the 90’s, Southwest out of Oakland. Took off and immediately started to descend. It happened so quick, my girlfriend grabbed my hand and the noticed FA’s in the front went into crash position. Soon after, Captain came on PA to advise a plane had also taken off from SFO and our flight was in its direct flight path and the tower told our flight to get out of the was ASAP. True to Southwest spirit, we all received complimentary drinks for the entire flight to Phoenix.

Eric
Guest

On a United flight out of Chicago, the CRJ 700 I was in depressurized shortly after hitting our operating altitude. The cabin filled with fog but the oxygen masks did not deploy. The captain went into a steep dive to 8000′ and pressure returned. We were within visual sight of St. Louis but we returned to Chicago. After deplaning on the tarmac and getting our checked bags, we had to find a new way home.

David SF eastbay
Member
No, but did see one happen years ago at LAX between BA and TWA. Both their LHR-LAX flights arrive about the same time and BA landed on the north outer runway and was to wait on the taxiway between the two runways for TW to land. I was standing in the TWA employee parking lot and stopped to watch our flight land. BA decided to not wait and crossed on the active runway. TW wheels were just about to hit the ground when all of a sudden it just zoomed straight up to avoid crashing into BA. That was scary… Read more »
Jim BOS
Guest

during takeoff roll at ORD for NRT, our 747 went to full thruster reverse & quickly braked to stop. Another plane landed a second later in front of us on intersecting runway. While taxiing back, captain said that it was much too close and that he had let ATC “know his feelings”.

Mark
Guest
As a sidenote, In 2010 the NTSB revised their regulatory requirement that an operator involved in a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) advisory must report that event to the NTSB. Essentially, if a pilot is given information by the onboard TCAS system to take evasive action, that event must be reported to the NTSB. They are accumulating the data to see if there is a problem or trend. 49 CFR 830.5 (10) Airborne Collision and Avoidance System (ACAS) resolution advisories issued either: (i) When an aircraft is being operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan and compliance with the… Read more »
phllax
Guest

I was on an AA 757 from LAX-DFW in 2009 that had a pressurization issue. We were cruising at 39,000 over West Texas when the masks came out and we went into a rapid descent. People remained calm, but what was scarry was that the plane kept yawing from left to right. The pilot later told us that was to help them dip off speed and remain in control. He got us down to 23,000 in under 3 minutes and we continued to Dallas, landing about an hour later.

Nick Barnard
Member

23,000? Generally when there is a pressurization issue they get to below 10,000 feet.. (Modern Aircraft are pressurized to the equivalent of 8,000 feet, with the exception of the 787 which is pressurized to 6,000 feet.)

Although, I’m surprised they continued onto DFW.

phllax
Guest

We were told it wasn’t a loss of pressure, but a failure of the primary and secondary systems, and the monual backup was slow to respond.

phllax
Guest

The pilot came on after we leveled off and said the primary and secondary pressurization systems failed and the manual 3rd backup was slow to catch up. I double checked on flightaware after we landed to be sure.

Nick Barnard
Member

Interesting. That means you were cruising at 23,000 feet without backup oxygen, since the canisters that provide O2 for passengers only last a few minutes, thus why the standard procedure is to descend when that happens… Must’ve been odd flying for another hour with the masks out..

Jeremy
Guest

Northwest airbus landing in MSP in 2004. We touch down when the pilot sees a small plane cross the runway and hit the gas to climb. It was more a surprise to be at that angle than it was scary. We didn’t know what happened until after. The pilot circled and we got back in the pattern to land.

Ken Mist
Guest

Years ago on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Hamburg. Well into the approach when the crew puts the throttles right up to the stops and we do our impression of a combat break. Captain followed the rules – Aviate, Navigate, Communicate and after we had established new approach advised us that a helicopter had decided to share the same piece of sky that we were using at the time. Lots of frightened passengers. Closest I’ve ever come to performing aerobatics in a commercial aircraft.

noahkimmel
Member

I was on a flight a year and a half ago which performed a go around on short final when the previous aircraft stopped on the runway. It was the fastest ascent I’ve ever felt!

Cathryn
Guest

Yes, I was on a United flight on final approach into SFO and just as we reached the threshold the pilot shot the plane what felt like straight up in the air. It was more than just a missed approach. Turns out we were about to land on top of a small plane also on final approach. Pretty unnerving, but thankful for a good pilot who knew what to do.

Henry
Guest

Yep, in the early 2000s on a UA DEN-IAD on a 777 we had a rapid TCAS-commanded descent while on approach to IAD. Channel 9 was on, and ATC had turned a plane into our path. The captain first roasted the controller after the controller stupidly asked what we were doing and then the captain came on the intercom and apologized for the maneuver while still being pretty hot at ATC. It was pretty entertaining for this geek.

RICH
Guest
Over the past 5 years have had to take evasive action 3 times on flights landing at Chicago ORD… Upon landing the wheels touched and then quick take off banking to the right and at high rate of speed a regular roller coaster ride. Captain advised plane that landed in front of us ” Stopped Short” thus leaving part of the plane on the Run Way. Aviation friends say this happens quit a bit at large airports where planes “stop short” leaving tail end on Runway.
dpboettcher
Member

Yes. The boss of the company I worked for in the 80s had a King Air and found reasons to use it. He always hired a commercial pilot in addition to himself. We usually couldnt tell who was in which seat. We flew to msp to check out software several times. Once, they suddenly made a rapid climb and gave us the explanation that another plane was on a collision course and they were directed to climb. As I recall we were over Wisconsin and not near an airport at the time.

Neil
Guest

DL 757 ATL – LGA. Final approach, made the left over Shea/Citi and was a minute or two from landing when we powered way up and banked hard to the right. I was on the right side of the plane and saw an AA MD80 take off perpendicular to us. Shot out right under us. Am sure it wasn’t that close but looked crazy. As we went back around the pilot said they hadn’t cleared the runway in time. Freaky.

Nick Barnard
Member
It wasn’t evasive action, but I was on a USAir DC9 on a takeoff roll. (Probably on a PIT-BGM flight but I’m not sure.) We had already released the brakes and were going at a pretty good speed when the pilot braked and we turned off the runway at a pretty good clip. (This was before WN got too far outside of the south, so no one was used to such fancy driving.) Apparently the rear emergency exit door showed that it was open. Instead of deplaning USAir just brought the mechanic onboard and he walked up and down the… Read more »
lu
Guest

Last week in class B MSP airspace, We were in a Pipper Warrior, and ATC missed the a plane been towed taken off right in front of us.

Bob Simmons
Guest
Oct. 1978, EA B727-225, MIA-DCA, on short final for runway 18 (now 19), between 14th Street bridge and Gravelly Point. Departing private jet taxied into position for departure on 18, at that moment. Gear up, and around we went, initially at a very steep rate of ascent. There were a few shrieks from some passengers, but most remained very calm. As were cricled to get in sequence again, the Captain explained the situation. He also added that he had not received his “piggyback flight certification.” Those were different times, that I sure do miss. I greatly miss Eastern, as well!
Gimpyrichardson
Guest

Late ’90’s, ATAL-1011 into mco. Normal landing, over chevrons, then full thrust starboard. Pilot apologized for the quick maneuver, blaming “the damned blind puddlejumper” that was landing underneath us. This was the most g’s I’ve ever ecperienced.

MeanMeosh
Guest
Closest I’ve come was a missed approach at ORD on an AA MD-80 a few years ago. I could tell from the landmarks that we were only a few miles from the airport, but we shot straight up and banked to the right, before heading out over Lake Michigan and trying again. I never did find out what happened, as the captain didn’t offer up any explanation. Not sure if it was a garden variety missed approach, or if it was something more serious. The maneuver itself wasn’t that scary, but I could see several passengers were unnerved, since there… Read more »
John C
Member
I’ve never experienced evasive action in a commercial airliner, but have taken evasive action several times flying GA. Closest call was flying through a pass under a cloud deck and having opposite direction traffic at the same altitude. I don’t think they ever saw me as I passed under them after a hard push. I’ve caused TCAS RAs several times flying in the Bay Area even though both I and the commercial airliner were under ATC control, had each other visually and were maintaining legal separation. The flight path out of Palo Alto to the east goes under the Oakland… Read more »
olympicpro
Member

I was on a UA777 flying into IAD. Seconds before landing, the plane made an abrupt upward turn. A few minutes later the captian came on and announced that there was a runway incursion from another jet, and they would need to circle around, we landed safely. I was very pleased with how the situation was handled by the flight deck, and totally impressed with the way the B777 took off so quickly in midair!

CharlieFritts55
Member
Two incidents I experienced during mid 1990’s. First was a USAirways flight from BUF to PIT on a 737. B I was Chairman Preferred at the time and enjoying a first class upgrade. Sitting next to me was a woman flying for the first time and quite nervous. Its a short flight but we hit some moderate turbulence which really shook her up. She grabbed my hand then asked if it was OK. That seemed to comforting to her. About 15 minutes later she said she felt better and let go. Not 5 minutes past and we started our approach.… Read more »
Garry Margolis
Guest
A *long* time ago, I was an Air Force ROTC cadet doing a turn at the controls of a C-54 (military DC-4) in a restricted military space over the Pacific near Oxnard, CA. The Major in the left seat turned control over to me and took his hands off the stick. A couple of minutes later, a single-engine Cessna flew across our path, not very far from us. I instinctively pushed the stick forward and turned hard left. The Major told me I’d done the right thing and that he had been about to do the same maneuver. He then… Read more »
David M
Guest
I don’t recall any TCAS type events, but I’ve been a passenger in a few go arounds. My first (that I recall) was a United 757 flying MCO-IAD. The stated reason was due to a vehicle on the runway. Interesting thing was that Channel 9 was switched off as soon as we contacted the tower on our second approach. I’m thinking that the pilot had some choice words for the controller that he didn’t want us to hear. I believe I’ve had two at SFO. One was on a Delta 767-400 flying HNL-SFO. This one was caused by a passenger… Read more »
Laura La
Guest

One go-round at PHL in 1986: was about to land in rain and a very low ceiling, as we broke through the clouds we suddenly did a very steep climb and turned. Pilot let us know we had to go around because there was another plane still on the runway.

Had to re-do a takeoff, it was a few years ago but I can’t recall where, I think at GSP, we started to taxi and very shortly thereafter stopped and pulled off the runway. Pilot says another plane was crossing the runway and hadn’t cleared yet.

jaybru
Member

Cant’ remember much about the last landing I had but funny how I can’t ever seem to forget one “missed approach” into IAD a on clear and starry night.

Sorry, pilot friends, ’cause it probably had nothing to do with the pilot, but boy, we sure can come up with some amazing ideas of what might have happened that one time, that once in what, thousands and thousands of landings?

Good luck. Keep up the wonderful work!

malbarda
Member
Had about 3 aborted landings (SFO/KLM, LHR/KLM, BA/BRU) and one aborted take off (FRA/KLM – engine fault indicator). But only one true near miss: La Guardia to St. Louis. I was upgraded and sat in 1A. I was looking out the left window as we started accelerating to take off on Runway 4. No sooner had we started to accelerate when we hit the brakes. Hard. As we did so I saw a Canada Air CRJ landing on Runway 13. After he was gone we started our take-off again. When we landed the captain was at his door saying goodbye… Read more »
g_oconnor
Member

About 4 years ago we were on final approach to land in San Diego.
Just as we thought we would land the pilot suddenly pulled up.
came on the PA and sounded made complaining an aircraft was on the runway.
yhst was scarry since wheels were down and we were over downtown San Diego and just about at the runway!

Bill from DC
Guest

like a lot of folks here, touch down then wheels up almost immediately. mine was on DL at LAX, an L10 i believe so there was plenty of thrust!

Darkwater
Guest
So, when I saw the topic of the post I didn’t think it applied to me, but after reading the responses there was one trip on UA OAK-ORD in the late ’90’s that might have been an instance: lining up for final approach while I was sitting in F/C, we were about to land when we suddenly pulled up at a substantial pace and Ch 9 went dark for a few seconds. The pilot came on the intercom a bit later as we were rejoining the pattern and said that the crosswinds exceeded our maximums; althewhile other planes were landing;… Read more »
Cedarglen
Guest
Yes. It can be an interesting ride and is yet *ANOTHER* reason to keep that seat belt ON, unless there is some specif reason to remove it for a moment. That comfortable ‘living room in the sky’ is still moving at ~~500 MPH, 5-8 miles above the earth. Sometimes, stuff happens, so please keep your belt on. I’ve had the “E-Ticket” ride a couple of times. There is no warning and no announcement. When the pilots recognize a serious threat, they WILL climb, dive or turn abruptly – and without regard for cabin activities to avoid the threat. The why… Read more »
Joel
Member
Hey Cranky: I thought the following blog post re Asiana pilots would be of great interest. Subject: the lowdown on Korean pilots After I retired from UAL as a Standards Captain on the 400, I got a job as a simulator instructor working for Alteon (a Boeing subsidiary) at Asiana. When I first got there, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. It is not a normal situation with normal progression from new hire, right seat, left seat taking a decade or two. One big difference is that ex-military… Read more »
Tim
Guest

I was on a National Airlines (N7, with the rainbow “N”) flight departing out of LAS, when we suddenly found ourselves banking damn near 90 degrees. Seriously, it was like I was looking straight at the ground out my window. I remember everybody “Whoa-ing” at the same time. Never did find out why this happened. the only thing we heard from our captain was “Whoops!’.

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