The captain of a Qantas plane that was given the all-clear to take off told air traffic controllers that a landing Qantas jet came "very close" during an incident at Sydney Airport.

According to a preliminary report released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the Airbus A330 involved in the August 5, 2019, incident was taking off on a runway as a Boeing 737-800 landing on the same one.

The report said the two planes came within 796 metres (O.43nm) laterally and about 152 metres (500ft) vertically, setting off the A330's airborne collision avoidance alert.

The minimum separation inside terminal airspace is 1000ft vertically and 3nm laterally but this can be reduced by a tower controller who has the aircraft in sight.


A controller who has previous experience at a different tower was being given supervised training for his new position when the incident occured.

The Melbourne-bound A330 had started taking off before the air traffic controller determined that there would be insufficient space between the two aircraft, so instructed the landing plane to abort and perform a go-around.

"The ADC-E controller reported that he had both aircraft in sight," the report said.

"In an attempt to increase separation between the two aircraft, he instructed the 737 flight crew to turn further right.

The flight paths of the two Qantas jets. Graphic / ATSB
The flight paths of the two Qantas jets. Graphic / ATSB

"The 737 was then at about 980 ft, which was below the minimum vectoring altitude (at night).

"As both aircraft converged, the A330 flight crew received a traffic advisory alert from their aircraft's airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS).

"The A330 first officer, who was pilot flying, then saw the 737 in close proximity and, in response, reduced the aircraft's angle of bank to reduce the turn towards the 737.

"The captain of the A330 made a radio transmission to advise the ADC-E controller that it was 'very close'. The controller then issued an instruction to the A330 flight crew to turn left."


The A330 continued on bound to Melbourne as the 737 landed in Sydney moments later.