Questions over alleged mid-air near miss

AVIATION experts are today waiting to see if an alleged “near miss” between two passenger jets over Felixstowe is an incident which will need to be investigated.

AVIATION experts are today waiting to see if an alleged “near miss” between two passenger jets over Felixstowe is an incident which will need to be investigated.

An Evening Star reader claims he saw a plane apparently having to take dramatic action to avoid a collision with another aircraft.

However, air accident investigators today said sometimes what may look like a near miss from the ground can be deceptive and is often perfectly normal flight action and the planes are miles apart.

The reader was looking out of a window of his home at Felixstowe seafront at 6.40am yesterday when he saw two planes on the same path. One then suddenly veered away and dropped in height before carrying on its flightpath.


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He described it as a “quite violent manoeuvre” and it definitely looked at if the plane had been taking avoiding action.

Near misses are investigated by the UK Airprox Board and pilots and air traffic controllers have 72 hours in which to file a report of a near miss after one happens.

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A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Sometimes what appears a near miss from the ground can be very difficult to what actually happens in the air.

“Speed of the planes, distance apart, heights and flight-paths all need to be taken into account and the view from the ground can be deceptive.

“Airprox investigates every report of a near miss to assess the risk of whether there was a risk of collision or not and investigators will interview the pilots, air traffic controllers, look at radar from the day and other information.”

On its website, UKAB said: “Even to the expert eye, judging the relative height of two or more aircraft can be extremely difficult, especially if the higher aircraft is larger than the other.

“In the UK, at all levels and even in the worst weather conditions, air traffic controllers can cross aircraft 1,000 feet above or below each other.

“In good weather, in areas where an air traffic control service is not mandatory, pilots can significantly reduce this 1,000 feet vertical separation and still operate with complete safety on a 'see and avoid' basis.”

See next week's Evening Star for a special six-part series on the growing air traffic in Suffolk's skies - and how it will effect us in the future as air travel doubles.

Our Air Fair campaign will focus on the big issues, including pollution, noise, global warming, and finding out what our community leaders think and what we can do as individuals to stop planes ruining our environment.

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