Update: Britain near miss

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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK Air controller blamed for near miss

The jumbo jet was carrying 215 passengers and crew Two passenger planes carrying more than 300 people came "exceptionally close" because of a lack of positive action by an air traffic controller, an accident report has revealed.

The Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 had to abandon plans to land at Manchester Airport to avoid a BAC One-11 aircraft, which had taken off for Bergamo in Italy.

At one point there was only about 860 metres between the two aircraft, said the report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch(AAIB).

The controller had embarked on a plan which he should have realised had become "unworkable", it said.

The controller, operating from the Manchester control tower, did not intervene even though he realised the situation was becoming critical with the Boeing likely to reach the start of the runway while the One-11 was only some way along it, the report added.

His actions were "characterised by a lack of positive control or intervention".

Eventually, a decision was "effectively taken out of his hands" by the Boeing 747 pilot's decision to abandon the landing, said the report.

'Taking an age'

The incident happened on the morning of 16 September last year.

The One-11 was carrying 100 passengers and the 747 had 215 passengers and crew.

An Airbus A320 aircraft - landing ahead of the Boeing 747 - had been slow to clear the runway.

The controller then noted the BAC One-11, operated by the European Aviation company, was "taking an age" to roll down the runway and that the Boeing 747, arriving from Amsterdam, was coming in "surprisingly fast", said the report.

Safe touchdown

But the controller still issued a clear-to-land instruction to the Boeing 747 which touched down safely after abandoning its first attempt to touch down.

The report added: "It was not until their return to Manchester that the crew of the One-11 were told by air traffic control that the Boeing 747 had come exceptionally close to their aircraft during take-off."

The AAIB went on: "This over-adherence to a plan has had all the hallmarks of a controller operating under stress.

"Past incidents have shown that in such situations individuals find it very difficult mentally to 'stand back', reassess their plans and make adjustments as necessary."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), June 07, 2001

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