250ft from dis­as­ter: RAF jet in near miss with plane

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Mike Merritt

AN RAF fighter jet and a civil­ian air­craft came within feet of crash­ing into each other over the High­lands, an of­fi­cial re­port has found.

The near-miss was dis­closed last night af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors ruled the risk of col­li­sion had been ‘high’. The UK Air­prox Board blamed ‘mul­ti­ple con­trib­u­tory fac­tors’, from ‘equip­ment fail­ures and poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion’ to ‘dis­trac­tion and loss of sit­u­a­tional aware­ness’, for the in­ci­dent above Caith­ness on June 14.

The Ty­phoon fighter from RAF Lossiemouth in Mo­ray was found to have no work­ing sec­ondary sur­veil­lance radar (SSR) and did not see the BAE Jet­stream 41 air­craft.

The lack of SSR meant the Mo­ray-based air traf­fic con­troller had no al­ti­tude in­for­ma­tion and there was a lack of traf­fic in­for­ma­tion is­sued to the Ty­phoon pi­lot by the mil­i­tary air con­troller in Swan­wick, Hamp­shire, ‘dis­tracted’ by the lack of SSR.

The Jet­stream pi­lot saw the Ty­phoon ‘bal­loon­ing’ in the win­dow and felt it was clos­ing fast. The re­port states: ‘The pi­lot deemed a col­li­sion was close, dis­con­nected the auto-pi­lot and pushed the nose down to in­crease sep­a­ra­tion.

‘It was agreed by both pi­lots that they were within 250ft.’

The Ty­phoon pi­lot, on a train­ing flight, was un­aware of the near-miss un­til in­formed later. The RAF no longer al­lows Ty­phoon flights with­out ser­vice­able SSR other than in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances.

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