Two Qantas planes were already in the air when an Emirates flight came up and showed light signalling its movement on the left, which could have prompted a huge collision.
The incident dates back to July 5, 2015 when an on board passenger captured the whole incident on his camera. The two Qantas Boeing 737 planes, namely QF449 and QF 819 and Emirates flight UAE 405 might have collided but the latter disappeared under the wing soon, avoiding collision.
Both Qantas airplanes en route to Singapore were forced to delay their landings when the Emirates plane took off late from an intersecting runway. The pilots did not even get 20 seconds to react to the situation. Qantas pilots were compelled to take a “double go around” manoeuvres, with one of their planes allowed to fly at an inappropriate and unsafe height across air terminals.
Senator Nick Xenophon described the incident as a “potential disaster.” While the pilots tried avoiding any accident, an air traffic controller trainee, a trainer and a tower coordinator controlled the tower during that time.
“This was a near miss,” Xenophon said as quoted by SBS Australia. “Two aircraft nearly collided in air because of a series of systematic failures.”
Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport’s dual intersecting runaways were questioned after the incident. Most of the airports feature multiple runways but are usually parallel to each other. According to news.com.au, Xenophon criticised the commercial pressure on airports that expects them to optimise take-off and landings, thereby putting stress on air traffic controllers.
The video features another plane approaching from the left, but soon disappearing under the wing. The First Officer’s voice can be heard in the video where he explained the passengers about the necessity of the manoeuvre.
“The pilots of both aircraft responded quickly and followed standard procedure for a missed approach, landing safely shortly afterwards. There was no loss of separation, meaning that all aircraft involved maintained their minimum distance from each other at all times,” Qantas spokesman told news.com.au.
“Qantas is comfortable with the land and hold short procedure at Melbourne Airport, which is used by all domestic airlines at Tullamarine without incident every day.”
Airservices Australia claimed that the incident did not put passengers’ lives under any kind of risk, while the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been assigned the task to investigate the matter.