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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Inquiry into aircraft near-miss
Map showing  near-miss location
The incident occurred 10 miles east of Llandrindod Wells
Flight investigators are trying to discover why two planes almost collided over mid Wales.

An investigation was launched after two British Airways passenger planes on domestic flights had a near-miss 10 miles from Llandrindod Wells, Powys.

The seriousness of the incident was heightened, as it came just days after two jets collided over Germany killing 71 people.


I think the public have a right to reassurance

Lembit Opik MP

Local MP Roger Williams has written to UK Transport Secretary Alistair Darling and the Civil Aviation Authority asking if the incident was linked with the newly-privatised National Air Traffic Control System.

A Bristol to Newcastle flight came within 1000ft of a plane from Glasgow as they flew over mid-Wales at about 1900 BST on Wednesday.

Emergency anti-collision systems were activated and both planes were steered apart to avoid what could have been a tragedy.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which is investigating the incident, said the planes must have been closer than 1,000ft, otherwise no report would have been filed.

A BA spokesman said it was "unlikely" the passengers were aware of the incident.

Both aircraft were being guided by air traffic controllers at the London Area Control Centre at the time.

Lembit Opik MP
Lembit Opik: Concerned

The Embraer 145 jet BA4029 carrying 43 passengers from Glasgow had been given the green light to descend and land in Bristol.

It had been flying at high altitude and was cleared to drop to 19,000ft.

"For reasons to be investigated the Embraer 145 aircraft descended to below this cleared level," a BA spokesman said on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the Dash 8 aircraft BA4058 carrying 22 passengers was leaving Bristol for Newcastle and travelling at 18,000 ft.

Advice

The Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), an electronic warning device in the cockpit, was activated.

It advised both pilots of the necessary actions required to steer both flights to safety.

The Embraer climbed and the Dash descended.

"The TCAS system did exactly what it is designed to do so any risk of collision was eliminated," the spokesman added.

"An air proximity report has been filed following the incident involving two BA CitiExpress aircraft."

Passengers are unlikely to have known what happened

A CAA spokesman said: "An investigation is under way but the two planes must have been closer together than 1,000ft or no report would have been filed.

"Nobody knows how close they were at this stage but closer examination of the facts and courses will reveal more."

The investigation will be monitored by the independent UK Airprox (aircraft proximity report) Board.

The CAA said that from January to June 2001 there were 44 airprox incidents involving civil air transport and 33 of these were assessed as having no risk of collision.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Lembit Opik - who has always taken a great interest in aviation issues - said European air safety was generally very good, but the latest incident gave cause for concern.

"The important thing is to find out why this was so close, and to make sure that there is better avoidance in the future."

Military jet

Mr Opik said he would be working with Roger Lewis, the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, to determine exactly what happened.

"I think the public have a right to reassurance that whatever caused the near-miss this time can be rectified so that it can never happen again."

A near-miss involving a military jet and a passenger aeroplane in the west of Scotland is also being investigated, it has emerged.

The incident took place 25 miles west of Glasgow and involved a Shorts 360 aircraft from Islay, which was operated by Loganair.

It was being guided into Glasgow by air traffic controllers when it came close to colliding with a Royal Air Force jet at an altitude of about 5,000ft some 25 miles from the city.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is carrying out an inquiry into the incident, which took place last month.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Nick Palit
"At 7pm the two planes came within 1,000ft of each other over mid Wales"
See also:

05 Jul 02 | Scotland
21 Jun 02 | England
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