Near miss at OR Tambo still making waves a year later
A NARROWLY averted collision between a Boeing and a light aircraft at OR Tambo International Airport a year ago is still affecting air traffic control management there.
Yesterday, trade union Solidarity said the two Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) officials who investi- gated the incident had recommended disciplinary action against four air traffic controllers, but instead were accused of racism and suspended.
“Turning the matter into a racial issue is an injustice to our members. What’s more, the public’s safety is put at risk when serious violations are ignored,” Solidarity spokesman Piet le Roux said.
He said the fact that the managers were white and the controllers, who he said had violated air safety rules, were black should not play a role.
Solidarity said the inquiries related to several incidents.
One was an incident at OR Tambo in June 2013. “In this incident, the air traffic controller almost caused a fatal plane crash by giving a Boeing 777-200 of an international air- line permission to take off and allowing a smaller plan to land on the same runway at the same time,” said Solidarity.
“To make matters worse, it is clear form the sound recording of the incident that the airtraffic controller, after issuing the conflicting instructions, became aware that his instructions would lead to an accident, but kept quiet instead of taking emergency measures. A poten- tial accident and loss of life were avoided at the last minute when the pilot of the smaller plane broke off the landing with a risky evasive manoeuvre.”
Solidarity said the incident was rated as a class A2 incident, just two levels below the most serious type of incident, a full-scale crash.
ATNS had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.