Second near-miss sparks further RAF jet safety fears

Hawk was not seen by Typhoon over north sea
Hawk was not seen by Typhoon over north sea (Crown Copyright)

INVESTIGATORS HAVE REVEALED a second incident involving aircraft operating from RAF Lossiemouth that required “drastic action” to avoid a mid-air collision.

Just days after reporting an incident involving two Tornado jets above the Moray base that was blamed on an inexperienced air traffic controller, the UK Airpox Board has published details of a second near-miss involving a Typhoon that came dangerously close to a Hawk trainer while on exercise in January.

The latest Airpox report related an incident that happened over the North Sea on January 22 and involved a Hawk two-seated trainer which was returning to Lossiemouth having been acting as a training exercise “target” for a Typhoon.

In the report the Hawk pilot describes how he saw a second Typhoon less than three miles away before it passed in front of and just 300ft above the Hawk.

Investigators said: “The Typhoon pilot was focussing on joining with the other Typhoon that was above, and was not aware of the Hawk passing below.”

The report made a number of recommendations to avoid a re-occurrence of such an incident – including noting the lack of a collision warning system on the aircraft.

The latest incident has prompted yet more calls for the installation of collision avoidance systems in military jets from Moray MP Angus Robertson, who said: “This latest incident raises yet further concerns over the lack of collision avoidance systems in military jets.

“Experts have said time and again that these systems would significantly reduce collision risk and given that this incident is the second to be reported in the press in as many days it underlines the urgency of this issue.

“Once again the report into the incident highlights the lack of collision avoidance systems, which is making the already highly challenging job of the aircrews even more difficult.

“The UK Government needs to get this issue sorted and sorted soon. It is critical for the safety of crews flying the jets and for greater safety where the jets have to fly.”

An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF takes all reported airpox incidents very seriously – air safety considerations are at the core of all our aviation activity.

“However, no flying is completely without risk, which is why training and procedures are constantly reviewed.”