A MILITARY jet came within 500ft of a civilian plane near Corris, according to a report from aviation safety inspectors.
A report by the UK Airprox Board states that on September 21 last year, a Hawk T2 jet plane passed 500-800ft under a PA28 civilian plane traveling in the opposite direction along the Mach Loop area near Corris, with “minimal lateral separation”.
The Hawk pilot noted that the civilian aircraft was on the corner of a valley so they had no way of seeing it earlier than they did. The Hawk pilot said he was flying at 1,800 feet at the time of the incident. The pilot assessed the risk of collision as “medium”.
The pilot of the PA28 civilian aircraft is an experienced former RAF pilot and current airline pilot, who assessed the risk of collision as “low”.
An RAF Hawk T2 aircraft (Wikipedia ) (Wikipedia)
Airprox’s board concluded that the incident was category C, meaning there was no risk of collision.
The commission concluded that even if the pilot of the Hawk saw the PA28 very late, and was undoubtedly surprised by its presence, the risk of collision was low because of the existing vertical separation.
The report stated: “It was evident that although the pilot of the PA28 reported a visual sighting at a distance of two nautical miles, the pilot of the Hawk only saw the PA28 at approximately CPA, effectively a non-sighting . [CF5].
“Some members felt that the speed of closure was such that safety had been compromised, but after further discussion it was decided that the vertical separation at the CPA, while far from desirable, was such that the collision had been avoided; the PA28 pilot was able to assess the collapse vector and decided that no action was necessary.
Members reiterated that the airspace along the Mach Loop is accessible to all users, but questioned the wisdom of choosing to fly a civilian aircraft along a military flow arrow on a day of week and at low altitude, for recreational purposes.
The investigation revealed that there were communication difficulties and problems with finding one’s bearings until very late due to the fact that they were in an “area of very high ground which can block VHF transmissions, TCAS /ADS and visual observations for aircraft operating at low altitude”.
An example of a PA28 civilian aircraft (Wikipedia ) (Wikipedia)
In assessing the effectiveness of the security barriers associated with this incident, the office concluded that the key factors were:
The tactical planning and execution was deemed partially effective because the PA28 pilot chose to transit along a known area of high intensity, fast-reacting traffic at an altitude such that CE and communication were compromised by heights.
Situational awareness of the conflicting aircraft and action was deemed ineffective because neither pilot was aware of the proximity of the other aircraft until it was sighted.
The operation and compliance of the electronic warning system was found to be ineffective because the Hawk TCAS warning only occurred at a late stage due to terrain masking.