This is from the NTSB website:
"On December 1, 2000, at 1244 Pacific standard time, Air New Zealand Flight 002, a Boeing 747-400, New Zealand registry ZK-SUJ, encountered an opposite direction Boeing 737-3Q8, N696BJ, in cruise at FL370 about 400 nmi southwest of Los Angeles, California. Both airplanes maneuvered to avoid each other in response to TCAS resolutions. Air New Zealand (ANZ) Flight 002 was operating on an IFR clearance in oceanic airspace and being controlled by the Oakland Oceanic Control Center on a nonstop international passenger flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles. The Boeing 737 was operating on a clearance from the US Navy Fleet Air Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) in San Diego, California, to conduct VFR operations in Warning Area 291. The Boeing 747 was operated by Air New Zealand Airlines under the pertinent provisions of the New Zealand civil aviation regulations. The Boeing 737 was operated by Aviation Partners, Inc., of Seattle, Washington, under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, and was conducting engineering test flight operations. Neither airplane was damaged. None of the 17 crewmembers or 378 passengers on Air New Zealand Flight 002 were injured. The two pilots on the Boeing 737 were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The captain of Air New Zealand Flight 002 said they were in cruise flight at FL370 near position north 28 degrees 49 minutes by west 124 degrees 10 minutes with the TCAS set to a range of 40 miles. The TCAS alerted him to a traffic advisory (TA) 40 miles at the 12 o'clock position opposite direction at the same altitude. Shortly thereafter, the TCAS changed to a resolution advisory (RA) commanding a descent. The Captain disconnected the autopilot and began a descent as he acquired the other aircraft visually. The traffic also began a descent and he turned left to avoid the other airplane. The Captain noted that the traffic turned toward his airplane and he then maneuvered in the opposite direction and increased his rate of descent. He estimated that the Boeing 737 passed them 400 feet below and with 3/4 mile lateral separation. The captain stated that they were not advised of any traffic in their vicinity. The Boeing 737 was on an engineering test flight exploring a winglet installation and had been operating VFR in Warning Area 291 (W291), which is controlled by the US Navy Fleet Air Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) in San Diego. In order to conduct the tests and gather the cruise efficiency data for the test card points, the airplane was flying ground tracks east to west into the prevailing winds at FL370. Radar service and separation for the Boeing 737 had been terminated by FASFAC because of radar coverage loss. The TCAS had a maximum 12-mile range limit and was set to that value. They first were alerted to a traffic advisory, which became a climb resolution advisory as they visually acquired the opposite direction Boeing 747. The captain said he was at the maximum service ceiling for his operating weight and could not climb in response to his TCAS RA, so he descended and turned right. The Boeing 737 crew estimated the closest point of approach as 2 to 3 miles and 1,000 feet below the Air New Zealand flight. In a subsequent interview, the captain said that he "may have been outside of W291." Because of coverage issues, no radar data was available for the area in question. Review of transcripts and other documents supplied by the US Navy disclosed that FACSFAC did not coordinate the Boeing 737's operations with Oakland Oceanic Control Center as required by a letter of agreement between the facilities. Examination of the operating regulations in 14 CFR Part 91 disclose that allowable VFR altitudes for westbound flights are FL320, FL360, and FL400."
Found under http://www.ntsb.gov/aviation/LAX/01A054A.htm
The aircraft involved
Photo © Saul Loeb