Stressed Hampshire air traffic controller sends two passenger jets on collision course

TWO passenger planes were sent on a collision course by an overworked Hampshire air traffic controller.

Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 6:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 7:29 pm
NATS Swanwick Centre Fareham gv PPP-151015-163409001

The slip-up caused the jets to pass within 700 feet – 213 metres – of each other, according to a near-miss report.

The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) said the error was made by the controller at the Swanwick-based air traffic control centre “during a period of high workload”.

He gave an instruction to increase altitude to a Boeing 737 leaving Stansted Airport which was meant for another plane from the same airline, the UKAB said.

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This caused the passenger jet to climb “into confliction” with a Boeing 777 approaching the Essex airport, breaching the minimum 1,000ft (306-metre) separation distance.

A spokesman for NATS confirmed the incident took place on April 1 and has resulted from a mistake made by the controller.

The NATs official added: ‘The controller took action to correct the error and the UK Airprox Board concluded that there was no risk of collision.

‘Incidents like this are rare and NATS has an excellent safety record, but when they do occur we always seek to learn the lessons to help avoid any potential repeat.’