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SIA and Jetstar planes zoom past too close over NT

April 29, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A Singapore Airlines A330 and Jetstar A320 came too close to each other over the Northern Territory on Thursday afternoon.

We don’t yet know how close they came, because air-safety investigators have not yet released that information and may not do so until November.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is examining the incident, which occurred while the SIA aircraft was flying from Brisbane to Singapore. An air-traffic controller cleared the Jetstar A320 (which was flying from Darwin to Brisbane) to climb through the SIA plane’s cruise level, which resulted in a so-called “loss of separation” incident, the technical term for planes coming too close.

The ATSB says the incident happened about 75 kilometres east-south-east of Tindal in the Northern Territory. The air force has a Coles-Training_250X250pxbase at Tindal, which is near Katherine.

“The ATSB notification doesn’t mention that tower and approach and departure control at Darwin is the responsibility of 44 Wing, RAAF military controllers, who have over the years been the subject of various critical official reports,” aviation reporter Ben Sandilands notes in his Plane Talking blog on

“Loss of separation” happens when two aircraft fly within 305 metres vertically and 9.26 kilometres horizontally of each other, raising the risk of collision.

In a recent report, the ATSB expressed concern about the “relatively high” number of aircraft that have flown too close to one another in Australia’s military-controlled airspace, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Singapore Straits Times quoted an ATSB spokesman as saying: “We get about 100 such cases a year and investigate a small number that are deemed as potentially more serious. This does not necessarily mean, though, that in this case, there was any danger of a mid-air collision.”

In almost 90% of cases, loss-of-separation incidents involve “no or a low risk of aircraft colliding”, the ATSB says, and only about six cases a year “represent an elevated safety risk”.

Prevent aircraft coming too close to each other and they will never collide.

Written by : Peter Needham

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