China Eastern had an incident at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on October 11, which could have ended in disaster, as one of the worst aviation accidents in history.
Basically an Airbus A320 was taking off, while an A330 was crossing the runway at exactly the same time. The A320 pilots saw the situation and knew they couldn’t slow down in time, so they instead rotated early, so they were able to climb out over the A330. Apparently the two planes only missed one another by 19 meters. The Aviation Herald has a full description of the incident. Below is a recreation of what exactly happened:
Apparently the air traffic controller was largely at fault, as there was a miscommunication between air traffic control and the A330 trying to cross the runway.
Thank goodness the pilots of the A320 pulled up in time, or else this could have ended much like the Tenerife Disaster, which remains the deadliest accident in aviation history:
Anyway, while there are quite a few pilots out there who have been lauded as heroes, typically that doesn’t come in the form of a monetary reward. That’s not the case at China Eastern, however. People’s Daily Online reports that the captain of this flight was rewarded with 3 million RMB (~$440K), while the cabin crew was rewarded with 600,000 RMB (~$88K). The reward for the cabin crew seems especially generous, since they didn’t even know anything went wrong, since the flight continued as usual.
That’s a very nice gesture on the part of management, and a tiny fraction of what this would have cost them if things ended differently.
Kudos to the pilots!
(Tip of the hat to Michael W Travels)