A passenger plane came within seconds of a deadly collision when it got caught up in a simulated military attack over a Scottish airport last July, British media is reporting. A
Civil Aviation Authority investigation into the incident has found that the civilian plane’s pilot was forced to take evasive action when he got a warning that two Tornado GR4 warplanes were in his path, the Daily Mail reports. On his second attempt at landing, the pilot spotted two Black Hawk helicopters that air traffic control had not warned him about.
“As he prepared for a routine landing at a tiny island airport, a warning that there were a couple of tornadoes on the way was possibly the last thing the pilot expected,” the newspaper says.
The investigation heard that the 37-seat passenger plane was in the middle of a simulated attack involving 14 international military aircraft near Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis.
“Those Tornados just got a wee bit too close for us," the report quotes the civilian pilot as saying to the air traffic controller, according to the BBC.
The investigation concluded that the exercise should have been aborted when the passenger plane came in to land, and cited a “breakdown in communication” for the incident.
The Stornoway Gazette says investigators agreed that both the Tornados and the Black Hawk helicopters had been visible “albeit at a slightly later stage” and that there had been no risk of collision.
The report says that the jets simulating the attack had been told there was no civilian aircraft movement scheduled for the time of the exercise. It recommended a review of military exercise planning.