Near miss over Coldstream is investigated

A near miss occurred in the air over Coldstream in April this year involving four military aircraft.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 12:54 pm

A UK Airprox Report, following an investigation into the incident on April 25 at around 2pm, concluded that it was a category B - safety not assured; aircraft proximity in which the safety of the aircraft may have been compromised.

Two Hawk aircraft and two Typhoon aircraft were flying in the area at the time. The Typhoon aircraft had amended their original route to complete a sortie north from RAF Coningsby and the lead pilot was “satisfied that there was still no conflicting traffic displayed”. At one point the two teams of aircraft were within 1000 feet of each other at the same altitude and the No 2 Typhoon pilot alerted the lead pilot to what he described as “contacts low level on the nose”, to which the lead pilot replied “it’s just ground clutter” - believing the contacts to be clutter caused by wind turbines in the area.

The RAF Occurrence Safety Investigation into the incident concluded “there was a loss of separation resulting in an airprox between the Hawk and the Typhoon pair caused by the flight paths of the aircraft inadvertently bringing them into confliction”.

There were four points of failure: the Centralised Aviation Data Service, which aids awareness of other aircraft, failed due to human error; use of radio transmission before entering the low flying area failed due to unknown circumstances; lookout by all aircrew failed in respect of the Hawk aircrew but was successful by the No 2 Typhoon pilot; a collision warning system (CWS) to aid crews was not present.

HQ Air Command has since reported that “funding has been made available for the installation of CWS on Hawk aircraft and Typhoon will be fitted with ECAS (Enhanced Collision Awareness System) in the next 12 months. CWS was added to Tornado aircraft following a collision between over Scotland in 2012.