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Two federal agencies are investigating an incident in which two passenger jets nearly collided over Hawaii. If the incident hadn't been narrowly avoided, it could have been one of the worst mid-air disasters ever. ABC News reports that a United Airlines Boeing 757 came within 20 seconds of smashing into an U.S. Airways flight three weeks ago, but luckily the jets narrowly missed each other.
Kevin Townsend, a passenger on the United Airlines plane, told ABC News that he was on the Los Angeles-bound flight when the plane plunged several hundred feet without warning. "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," he said.
He said that after the incident, a flight attendant told him the pilot quickly maneuvered the plane to avoid another jet in the same flight path. Passengers were offered free DirecTV service to soothe their nerves, he added. His full account was published on Medium.
According to data released by the FAA, the planes were closer together than the agency allows. Rules state that planes must be 1,000 feet vertically apart, but these jets were fewer than 800 feet apart. The FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board and both airlines are investigating the incident.