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Emirates airplane '3.5 seconds from midair collision'

Military jet was performing manoeuvres at a low altitude near airport.
NEWS, Aviation

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By: Daniel Shane

An Emirates Airline flight carrying more than 400 passengers narrowly avoided a midair collision with a fighter jet as it took off out of Dubai international Airport, a preliminary report by accident investigators said.

The Boeing 777 aircraft, which was bound for Istanbul, came within 3.5 seconds of hitting the Hawk military jet, which had been performing high speeds manoeuvres at a low altitude near the airport, the UAE Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report found.

The incident, which occurred in February, saw the BAE Systems-made jet flying at a speed of approximately 400 mph towards the commercial flight. At their closest point, the aircraft were separated by just 100 ft vertically and 1,800 ft horizontally.

The Emirates plane had been in the air for just 16 seconds when air traffic controllers warned the pilot of the incoming Hawk fighter, which was forced to bank and turn sharply to avoid a collision.

"At this stage of the [Emirates flight’s] climb, it was not possible to take any avoidance action," the CAA report read. Following the incident, which did not result in any injuries, the flight continued on its journey to Istanbul.

A spokesperson for Emirates was quoted as saying the airline was “cooperating fully with the [investigation] and is awaiting the final report". The carrier said the incident was “being treated very seriously and with the highest priority".

According to the CAA investigation, the military jet had been observed on radar straying across some airspace sectors and identified confusion between air traffic controllers and the fighter as the one of key causes of the near collision.

The UAE Air Force is conducting its own investigation into the incident.

 

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