On a course headed for what might have been the worst disaster in aviation history, two Boeing 747 aircraft came within 100 feet of each other in a near-miss event over Scotland.
It happened in June of this year but the report is just now being released by by the UK Airprox Board, which examines near misses in UK airspace. The planes were 30 miles north of Glasgow when an air traffic controller noticed they were moving closer together. Ordered to fly in different directions, cockpit crews apparently got the instructions reversed and wound up flying towards each other.
“It was apparent that both crews had taken each others’ instructions, and the board found it hard to determine why this had occurred,” noted the Airprox report, a reported in a SkyNews article.Odds are all four pilots in the two aircraft probably were not paying a lot of attention to ground control, already having received clearance to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Compounding the problem: both planes had been ordered by air traffic control to fly at 34,000 feet.
The really scary part: A crash was only prevented because two pilots on each aircraft saw each other. Taking evasive action avoided collision with one plane climbing and the other diving.