Planes ‘five seconds away’ from crashing just outside Peterborough

Two planes were “five seconds away” from colliding 130 feet in the air at Sibson airfield.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 10:36 am
The near miss at Sibson. Photo: UK Airprox Board

Photos released by the UK Airprox Board show just how close the C20s were to crashing, with disaster only being avoided after the control tower ordered the higher plane to divert.

The board’s report states: “If not told to go around, it was estimated that a collision would have occurred after about five seconds.”

The near miss occurred on April 18 this year, a day after another potential air crash was narrowly avoided in Chatteris, where a pair of parachutists came close to military jets while free-falling at 120mph.

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The incident in Sibson, which is just outside Peterborough, occurred between two C208s operated by the same parachuting company, with one having just dropped parachutists and the other taking part in pilot training.

The near miss occurred when both planes looked to land at the same time, with the one which had dropped the parachutists ending up just 50 feet above the one being flown by the student.

The report states that the instructor alongside the trainee pilot “took control from the student and lowered the nose of the aircraft positively over the trees”.

It was at this point that higher plane was ordered to fly around to avoid a crash.

The risk of collision was described as “high” by the instructor.

UK Airprox Board members “agreed that collision had only been avoided by the narrowest margin” and commended the control tower operator for ordering the higher plane to fly around.

The near miss was given a Category A risk rating - the highest level.

The report states that it was “clear that parachute-dropping pilots were under some pressure to recover to the airfield after dropping parachutists as soon as possible so that the next load could be made with the minimum delay possible, and some members felt that this may have been a factor in events”.

It also noted that for the pilots, a “proactive deconfliction plan of some sort could have been agreed before they got airborne”.