Metres from disaster! Planes narrowly avoid mid-air crash in skies above WalesPosted: June 5, 2014
By Alan Selby-Wo
Two aircraft came within metres of a potentially deadly collision in Welsh airspace last year, a newly-published report has revealed.
Documents released by the UK Airprox Board show the pilots were lucky not to have smashed into each other in flight, given the “very high” collision risk created while they flew over Usk last November.
Their investigation was triggered when a microlight pilot said he suddenly saw another light aircraft shoot into sight on a collision course with his plane, just one second before it narrowly passed under him.
The Ikarus C42 Microlight, which set off from Gower Flight Centre at Swansea Airport, returned unharmed, as did the Cessna 404 which flew underneath it.
Its pilot said they had not been aware of the second plane, despite clear conditions, until the close encounter was reported days later.
But Airprox investigators, who probe events when aircraft safety appears to have been compromised, said the planes had been less than 200ft apart during the near-miss on November 23.
Their report said: “Because the C42 pilot did not see the C404 early enough to take any action and the C404 pilot did not see the C42 at all, it was considered that chance had played a major part in events, separation had been reduced to the minimum, and that this event had just stopped short of an actual collision.
“The Board unanimously agreed therefore that the Risk was Category A.”
They said both pilots were ultimately responsible but criticised Cardiff’s Air Traffic Controllers for not alerting the pair – despite it being likely an early warning system would have been activated on the ground.
They added: “Recognising that this was a potentially emotive issue that was open to interpretation, the Board expressed their disquiet that a safety barrier had been present but might not have been employed because it hadn’t been noticed or that it was deemed not necessary to do so because the aircraft wasn’t being controlled by Cardiff ATC. ”
The controller on duty at the time had was not informed of the near miss until three days afterwards, and said they had no recollection of any alerts at the time.
Air traffic officials said neither plane had requested monitoring from ground crews, and they had acted in line with national policy.
A NATS spokesperson said: “In its consideration of the facts, the United Kingdom Airprox Board did not attribute this particular Airprox to NATS; rather, as neither pilot was receiving an Air Traffic Control service both pilots had equal responsibility for collision avoidance.
“The NATS controller was operating entirely correctly and in accordance with national and local ATC procedures.
“With regard to the content of the Airprox report, Part A of the Airprox report deals with the facts to hand, whereas Part B reports the Board’s discussion; it is not for NATS to comment on the thoughts and conjecture of the UK Airprox Board discussion.”
The emergence of their “chance” escape comes just weeks after a 61-year-old man died when in a microlight crash at Caernarfon Airport, North Wales.
Sourced by Wales Online