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The BBC's Emma Simpson
"Holiday makers were completely unaware"
 real 56k

Saturday, 2 December, 2000, 23:57 GMT
Air disaster 'avoided by 100ft'
Britannia 757
The Britannia jet was moments from disaster
A disastrous collision between a passenger aeroplane and a military jet was avoided in what could be one of the UK's closest air misses for 20 years, it has emerged.

The incident, involving a Boeing 757 with 234 people on board and a US Air Force F15 fighter-bomber, happened 10,000ft over Northamptonshire on 22 November.

The margin between the two aircraft was just 100ft, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

USAF F15
F15s are often heavily armed
Passengers on board the Britannia Airways passenger jet, which was heading to Cyprus from Birmingham airport, were unaware of the incident.

The F15 was flying from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, the newspaper said.

The Civil Aviation Authority has said the incident was so serious it was referred directly to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

"The report from the pilot or the controller must have suggested it was a particularly serious incident for this to happen," said a CAA spokeswoman.

She added: "The incident took place about eight miles west of Daventry in Northamptonshire at 10.17am.

"The Boeing 757 was en route for Paphos, Cyprus and was receiving an air traffic control from London area control at West Drayton."

A spokeswoman for Britannia Airways said none of the passengers were aware of the incident because the plane was passing through a cloud at the time.

"We cannot comment on the details of the incident while an investigation is under way, but we can confirm that a Britannia Airways plane was involved and that it had 234 passengers on board," she said.

The revelation comes in the week that the government succeeded in passing controversial plans to part-privatise the air traffic control system.

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See also:

28 Sep 00 | Wales
RAF jets in 'near miss'
16 May 00 | UK
Close up: The near misses
30 Apr 00 | UK
Near miss at Heathrow
21 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Britain's air space 'too crowded'
29 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Peers capitulate on air sell-off
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