The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Typhoons in ‘lucky’ near miss

- Incidents · Royal Air Force · Aberdeenshire · United Kingdom

Two RAF fighter jets were in­volved in a midair re­fu­elling mix-up off the north-east coast, an of­fi­cial probe has re­vealed.

One of the pi­lots said it was by “luck” that the two air­craft did not get dan­ger­ously closer.

The Voy­ager tanker was due to ac­cept six air­craft for re­fu­elling on De­cem­ber 5.

But 50 nau­ti­cal miles north-east of Aberdeen there was con­fu­sion in­volv­ing two Typhoon jets.

One Typhoon pi­lot said that his for­ma­tion joined in front of an­other air­craft that was also meet­ing the tanker at the same time, cross­ing its level in the process and at a range of ap­prox­i­mately 1,800ft.

“It was by luck that the two air­craft didn’t con­flict”

It im­me­di­ately be­came ap­par­ent that they had cut in ahead of an­other air­craft that was in the process of join­ing the tanker.

A re­port to the UK Air­prox Board, which in­ves­ti­gates near misses, stated: “The Typhoon pi­lot’s main con­cern was that they were cleared to a level that was not va­cated and it would seem that sit­u­a­tional aware­ness had bro­ken down be­tween all air­craft in­volved and air traf­fic con­trol.

“It was by luck, rather than judge­ment, that the two air­craft didn’t con­flict, co-al­ti­tude, with Typhoon(B) at a much closer range,” added the first pi­lot’s re­port.

The board con­cluded: “Mem­bers dis­cussed the pro­ce­dures in place for air-to-air re­fu­elling and agreed that, with the in­ten­tion of com­plet­ing the join as ex­pe­di­tiously as pos­si­ble, the join­ing pro­ce­dures had not been com­pleted in an ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner.”

It rated the in­ci­dent with a risk cat­e­gory C.

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