Lucky passengers in a near-miss collision will be thanking their lucky stars this week after a Heathrow-bound airliner carrying 232 passengers came within 200ft and only a matter of seconds off a mid-air collision with a business jet over London, an official report revealed yesterday.
The German-owned Citation 525 jet passed only just over half a mile away and 100-200ft below the Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777 plane. The Citation had been cleared by the control tower at London City Airport to climb, initially to 3,000ft.
But acknowledging the instruction, the crew said it would be climbing to 4,000ft – a ‘readback’ mistake which went unnoticed by the London City tower controller.
The Boeing 777 had been cleared to descend to 4,000ft and it was at this height that it passed the Citation, which had two crew and one passenger aboard.
Aviation authorities said that the near-miss, which occurred above the Olympics site and close to London City Airport, was due to ‘miscommunication’ and ‘human error’.
It was branded as a ‘serious incident’ and has pushed air traffic controllers to introduce strict new safety procedures to prevent a tragedy over the capital.
Shockingly, the authorities admit that the area near London City has been a near-miss blackspot, with 21 aircrafts taking off from the airport since 2004 flying higher than authorised altitude – called a ‘bust’ – a third of which led to near-misses.
The AAIB report added that the only person to see the Citation was a pilot occupying the right observer seat who saw it ‘pass west of them at an estimated 100 to 200ft below’.
The AAB said that if the weather had been bad the Citation would not have been able to see the Boeing and would therefore not have been able to take effective avoiding action.
Luckily for all involved in this extremely scary incident, the planes passed by one another safely, however had it been different, the consequences don’t even bear thinking about.