Near miss between Typhoon and Jetstream prompts change in RAF rules

RAF LOSSIEMOUTH TYPHOONS will no longer be permitted to fly without a serviceable Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) following a close encounter with a civilian aircraft in June.

A report by the UK Airprox Board noted that a Typhoon from the Moray base came within 250 feet of a Jetstream 41 over Caithness.

The Moray jet had departed Lossiemouth with an unserviceable SSR – and that meant the Moray-based air traffic controller was receiving no altitude information from the aircraft – and the Typhoon pilot had not spotted the Jetstream.

The RAF pilot also lacked air traffic information from the military air controller based at Swanwick in Hampshire.  The Jetstream pilot did spot what he described as a Typhoon ‘ballooning’ in his window and closing fast, with the report noting: “The pilot deemed collision was close, disconnected the auto-pilot and pushed the nose down to increase separation.

“It was agreed by both pilots that they were within 250ft.”  The Typhoon was one of three that had departed Lossiemouth but was tasked to go ahead and check weather conditions.  When he became aware of the SSR fault, he called his flight leader and discussed if he should remain in formation.

The report added: “They opined that he could stay VFR [visual flight rules], it was clear skies with excellent visibility, and he would fly the short distance to D809 below the Class E Airway at FL70.

“With hindsight, after a further failure of his radar, this decision contributed to the Airprox.”

The report added: “Because he had multiple failures, he could have upgraded his Air Traffic Service to a Deconfliction Service, which would have placed more onus on ATC to call traffic to him and possibly have avoided the Airprox.

“His look-out scan was also reduced because he was probably spending too long head-in trying to sort out his radar issue rather than carrying out an effective look-out scan.”

The Board concluded the incident as a Category B degree of risk.  The RAF have said that they will no longer allow Typhoon flights without serviceable SSR to leave base in other than exceptional circumstances.