Emirates A380 in near mid-air collision over Mauritius
An Emirates A380 packed with holiday-makers on their way to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius almost collided with another airliner while descending to land.
According to a report by Aviation Herald, the A380-800 had been cleared to descend to 38,000 feet by air traffic control, but instead descended to 36,000 feet.
At the same time, an Air Seychelles A330-200, which had just taken off from Mauritius, bound for Male, was cleared to ascend to 37,000 feet.
Both airliners were on a converging course, but air traffic control didn’t realise the Emirates A380 had descended lower then instructed.
The pilots of Air Seychelles plane reportedly realised what was happening and made a sharp turn to avoid a possible collision. It’s unclear how close the two planes got to one another.
Air Seychelles has commended its two pilots for averting a major disaster.
“We commend our Captain Roberto Vallicelli and Seychellois First Officer Ronny Morel who were operating the HM054 flight from Mauritius to Seychelles on the evening of Friday 14 July 2017,” the carrier said in a statement.
Meanwhile, an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News in a statement: “Emirates has received reports of an event on 14th July 2017 in relation to aircraft separation involving flight EK-703 in Mauritius airspace.”
“The matter has been reported to the respective air transport authorities and Emirates will extend its full cooperation to any investigation. The safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance.”
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, told Arab News that fault for the incident lies with air traffic control as the Emirates crew would have repeated the incorrect flight level back to controllers, who should have then corrected them, but they did not.
“ATC should have advised the A380 crew again and got them to confirm that clearance was only given to descend to 38,000 feet, not 36,000 feet. By all accounts, it does not appear that the crew of the A380 did anything wrong, but rather, the ATC crew should have double-checked flight levels and they did not,” he said.
“If anything, questions should rightly be being asked about the competencies of ATC staff who did not realize the situation prevailing at the time whereas the flight crews of both airplanes did,” he added.