HAL pilot navigates to avoid Cessna

The Maui News – A pilot turned a Hawaiian Airlines interisland jet to avoid a smaller plane that took off without clearance Wednesday morning at Kahului Airport, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokes-man.

Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the FAA Pacific Division, said the agency is investigating the incident that occurred when a Cessna Caravan took off without clearance from Runway 5 as a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 was taking off from Runway 2 at the airport. The runways intersect at their northeastern ends, he said.

“A controller in the Maui tower spotted the conflict and instructed the Cessna pilot to turn left to avoid the Hawaiian Airlines jet,” Gregor said in an email. “The controller then alerted the Hawaiian Airlines pilot about the Cessna, and saw that the jet was already turning to the right, away from the smaller plane.”

Kahului resident Mike Moyers, who was aboard the 8:30 a.m. Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu, said the plane had just gotten off the ground when his girlfriend pointed out the Cessna, which appeared to be a commuter airline plane with six or eight windows.

“It was right there out of the window,” said Moyers, an aviation buff who was sitting near the back on the left side of the jet. “We were not even 100 yards apart.

“I saw it for an instant, then the pilot banked away from it.”

Moyers said the Hawaiian Airlines pilot “had to make a hard right turn” to avoid the smaller plane.

“I’m surprised that airplane didn’t crash,” Moyers said.

He said the Hawaiian flight was full, with a couple of high school soccer teams aboard. The plane continued on to Honolulu without incident.

“I’m glad to be alive today,” Moyers said. “It was really a bad thing. I can’t believe that happened like that.”