In 15 seconds, pilot saves hundreds of lives
It could have been the deadliest plane crash to date. But the lightning reflexes of a pilot helped save hundreds of lives.
And the time he had to react: a mere 15 seconds.
The near collision happened last month over Hawaii, Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
The US Federal Aviation Administration said a United Airlines flight took evasive action to avoid a US Airways flight.
Flight data showed the United plane was cruising at about 10,000m and suddenly dropped 182m to avoid a head-on collision.
At 11.16pm on April 25, the pilot for United Airlines flight 1205 could be heard initiating an abrupt dive, CBS News reported.
"We've got an emergency descent going! A plane just popped right at our altitude."
The planes came to about 3.5km of each other, the report said. There were about 295 people on board the United flight, and the other plane likely had a similar number of passengers.
Mr Kevin Townsend, a passenger on the United flight, said: "It was like being on an elevator dropping really quickly. You start to fall with gravity, not like in a fighter jet pressed up against your seat. It was like being in a free fall.
"Passengers started screaming. It was noisy, violent and really terrifying."
Mr Townsend said an airline attendant later explained the pilot had to make "evasive manoeuvres" to avoid a collision. The passengers were offered free in-flight entertainment, he said.
According to the incident report obtained by CBS, it was caused by miscommunication from Honolulu's air traffic control tower.