According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the 284 passengers on board Quantas Flight 12—a Boeing 747-400 flying from Los Angeles to Sydney—couldn't believe their eyes when they looked through their windows to see another Boeing from Air New Zealand flying just a few thousand feet from their aircraft. The explanation, as the commander announced, was simple: He was "flying blind" after their aircraft's weather radar broke three hours after take off. Fortunately, as Qantas explained, the Air New Zealand flight was able to relay the data their 747 needed all the way to the other side of the Pacific:
The Air New Zealand flight was a short distance ahead and it provided the Qantas aircraft with information from its own radar system throughout the journey. It travelled on the best weather path and the Qantas flight was able to follow behind. The aircraft was vertically separated according to operating procedure at all times - there was no danger to passengers.
The Sydney Morning Herald, however, disagrees: "The Herald understands that the two aircraft were separated by only a few thousand metres as weather updates were sent across to the Qantas plane, and that Qantas passengers could see the other jet through their windows." Knowing all the problems that Qantas have had lately and their fuzzy excuses, it won't surprise me. [SMH]