Misjudgement call on near-miss incident involving Tornado jets

TWO TORNADO JETS based at RAF Lossiemouth were involved in a near-miss incident that was blamed on a “misjudgement” by an inexperienced air traffic controller.

The XV(R) Squadron aircraft where making an approach to their base in November when one of the pilots became concerned at how close he was to the second jet. Both took evasive action with one of the aircraft flying just 400ft below the other.

A report by the UK Airprox Board – who investigate all mid-air near misses in UK airspace – rated the incident Category B – the second most serious rating they can allocate.

In their report the board acknowledged that the controller was relatively inexperienced, adding; “The board were disappointed that he had not given traffic information on first spotting the potential conflict on his radar”.

They report added: “However, they were heartened to hear that new simulator scenarios to include the need to give traffic information were being included in training, and that these were to be used RAF-wide

”The board noted that whilst well-intentioned, the controller’s plan to get both aircraft in from their approaches was based upon the flawed use of the “if visual call tower” procedure.

“This procedure was not intended for use in this scenario.”

Moray’s MP and leader of the SNP at Westminster, Angus Robertson, said that the latest incident was “particularly worrying” as it highlighted the need for collision warning systems to be fitted to the RAF’s fast jet fleet.

He said: “Rated as a Category B incident in which only drastic action avoided a collision between two RAF jets can only lead to the fear that another deadly collision, as happened in 2012, could occur again.

“It is a complete disgrace that 16 years after such a system was promised it has still not been installed.”

The MP added that the SNP would “continue to press the MoD” to fit collision warning systems “as a matter of urgency”, adding: “This a dangerous and needless shambles caused by delay and dither at the MoD.”