MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, March 24th 2023 - 04:04 UTC



RAF tanker and US fighter jets nearly crashed as flight controller was distracted by cell phone call

Monday, July 24th 2017 - 09:03 UTC
Full article 3 comments
The near miss happened January 5 this year at 16,000ft, ten miles off the coast of north Norfolk after the Voyager had refuelled two RAF Typhoons in mid-air. The near miss happened January 5 this year at 16,000ft, ten miles off the coast of north Norfolk after the Voyager had refuelled two RAF Typhoons in mid-air.

An RAF tanker aircraft and two F-15 fighters came within a split second of colliding over the North Sea after a flight controller was distracted by a phone call, an official report has revealed.The pilots of the RAF Voyager claimed that one of the United States Air Force jets was as near as 50 metres when it flew directly across their path as they were flying at 322mph.

 The F-15 flying at 402mph was so close that the tanker crew could feel the turbulence as it switched on its afterburner and roared away in a desperate bid to avoid a crash.

One of the pilots of the tanker immediately reported the near-miss to flight controllers, saying he and his crew “were very close to not being there anymore”.

A report by the UK Airprox Board, which investigates near misses, concluded that the F-15s had been flown “into conflict” with the Voyager. But it also blamed air traffic controllers for failing to provide adequate “traffic information” and misunderstandings between them and the American pilots.

One controller based at Stanwick, Hampshire, was said to have been confused when the F-15s stated that they would be flying in the Wash area and assumed they meant the geographic Wash.

But the F15 crews meant they were flying into the so-called Wash Aerial Tactics Area which extended further north into the refuelling zone where the RAF tanker was flying.

The controller had assumed the F-15s would be flying safely further south. As a result, he answered a landline phone which was not his responsibility and became “embroiled in a distracting and complicated” call.

The report said that the call “served to further increase his workload and resulted in him focusing on an that task rather than on the F15s”.

A trainee air traffic controller who was also monitoring the airspace said the F-15s had suddenly turned towards the Voyager and the incident “escalated rapidly”, leaving her no time to order the tanker to take avoiding action.

The near miss happened on January 5 this year at a height of 16,000ft around ten miles off the coast of north Norfolk after the Voyage from RAF Brize Norton had refuelled two RAF Typhoons in mid-air.

The Voyager which is the size of airline jet and normally has a crew of eight and two pilots was flying west with its wing hoses still trailing when it received an alert about two approaching aircraft.

Investigators said they were “disappointed” that the American pilots had not been told in a pre-flight briefing that refuelling was taking place in the area where they were to be flying. As a result, the F-15s entered the refuelling area off the Norfolk coast - one of 14 such areas in the UK - without realising that it was “active”.

An RAF investigation found the air traffic controllers “did not effectively prevent the F15 from entering the airspace around the Voyager”. The report made 15 recommendations to prevent similar near misses, including a review of airspace names.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Pytangua

    More stupid behaviour from the world's “superpower” - last week they killed 10 Afghan policemen by mistake in Helmand Province - great recruiting sergeant for the Taliban/ISIS. Why on earth do we in the UK still look up to to the US government - it beats me.

    Jul 24th, 2017 - 11:33 am 0
  • Clyde15

    What's that got to do with a near miss ? A civilian UK controller at Swanich made a mistake and the American military made a mistake so it's time for us to dump the USA ?

    Would you rather we were pals with the Russians ?

    Jul 24th, 2017 - 07:50 pm 0
  • Capt Rockhopper

    Its a non story, media scrapping around to find something to write about.

    Jul 25th, 2017 - 04:13 am 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!