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

Typhoons in ‘lucky’ near miss

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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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