View Full Version : MISC | Mid-Air Collison & Near-Misses
July 10th, 2005, 07:45 PM
Russian airline seeks damages from Germany over air disaster
KONSTANZ, Germany, June 30 (AFP) - A Russian regional airline, one of whose aircraft was destroyed in a mid-air collision with a cargo plane that killed 71 people, among them 45 children, filed a three million dollar damages claim Thursday against the German government.
Bashkirian Airlines, from the Russian republic of Bashkortostan in the Ural mountains, is seeking 2.7 million euros (3.3 million dollars) in a civil action which alleges breaches of surveillance and air safety by the German government.
The disaster occurred on the July 1, 2002 when the Russian Tupolev jet collided mid-air with a DHL plane over Ueberlingen in southwest Germany near Lake Constance, on the border between south Germany and Switzerland.
The airline is also seeking a ruling from the German court that any future damages action by the families of the victims are inadmissible.
Some 27 members of victims' families launched a damages claim in January in Spain against the Swiss air traffic control company, Skyguide, and Bashkirian Airlines.
Spain was the destination of the Russian plane whose passengers included the 45 school children going on holiday.
In 2004 Skyguide admitted responsibility for the disaster and in June of that year reached an agreed settlement to pay compensation to the families of 28 victims, reportedly 150,000 dollars (120,000 euros) per family.
This followed a November 2003 compensation agreement between Skyguide and families of 15 other victims including crew members.
In February 2004, a Russian father who lost his wife and two children in the disaster stabbed to death a Swiss air traffic controller who had been under investigation in connection with the crash causes.
A report by a German inquiry found that the overworked air traffic controller in the Swiss city of Zurich had failed to notice the collision course in time.
The inquiry concluded in May that a catastrophic chain of human error, system failures and technical problems had led to the collision.
November 13th, 2007, 03:04 PM
Russian air traffic killer freed from Swiss jail returns home
MOSCOW, Nov 13, 2007 (AFP) - A Russian man convicted of killing an air traffic controller after a crash in 2002 returned home early Tuesday after being freed from Swiss custody, Ria-Novosti news agency reported.
Vitaly Kaloyev, 51, was released after a Swiss court last Thursday confirmed a reduction in his sentence to five years and three months. He arrived from Zurich at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.
The Russian killed air traffic controller Pieter Nielsen after losing his wife and two children in an air crash on July 1, 2002.
He was freed from Regensdorf prison in the canton of Zurich after serving two thirds of his sentence, and flew on a Swiss airline flight to Moscow on Monday evening.
On arrival here he thanked the Russian authorities and people for their support.
He told journalists: "I am grateful to all Russian citizens for the backing they gave me. In prison, I did not feel separated from my country."
Nearly 30 of Kaloyev's friends and family including his brother Yury came to meet him at the airport.
The Swiss court ruled that Kaloyev was not in full control of his faculties when he stabbed Nielsen to death near Zurich in February 2004, and could not be held wholly responsible for his actions.
Seventy-one people, mainly schoolchildren from Russia on their way to a holiday in Spain, were killed in the disaster that took place in July 2002, when a Russian airliner collided with a DHL cargo plane over the southern German town of Ueberlingen.
Four Swiss air traffic control managers were convicted of negligence over the incident in September.
Three of the guilty, all executives of the air traffic control company Skyguide, were given one-year suspended jail sentences for negligent manslaughter.
The fourth, who was in charge of work being carried out on traffic control equipment at the time of the disaster, was fined 13,500 Swiss francs (8,200 euros, 11,180 dollars), equivalent to 90 days in jail under the Swiss system.
The presiding judge said the Skyguide executives had failed to exercise sufficient care by leaving just one controller in charge of southern German and eastern Swiss airspace at the time.
A German air accident inquiry concluded in 2005 that a chain of human error, systems failures and technical problems involving air traffic control and the aircraft had led to the collision.
January 1st, 2010, 06:08 AM
Serbia authorities say French, Israeli passenger jets nearly collided above Belgrade
30 December 2009
Associated Press Newswires
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - Two passenger jets nearly collided over Belgrade this week, Serbian air traffic authorities said Wednesday.
The Directorate for Civil Aviation said an Air France Airbus A318 and an Israeli El-Al Boeing 777 came within 700 feet (213 meters) of each other Monday before the French airliner stopped descending under orders from Serbian air controllers.
The statement said an investigation has shown that the French jet was on an unauthorized flight course. It said the airliner was instructed to fly at 35,000 feet (10,650 meters) but was 300 feet (91 meters) further down toward the Israeli jet, which was flying at 34,000 feet (10,346 meters).
Asked for its comment Wednesday, Air France said only that "the pilots reacted to a proximity alert," applying the necessary procedures, and "the flight continued normally." A press official refused to answer questions, including the number of passengers the Airbus was carrying on its flight from Paris to Sofia, Bulgaria.
In Israel, El-Al spokesman Ran Rahav confirmed that Flight 007 from Tel Aviv to New York, carrying 120 passengers, lowered its altitude over Belgrade to avoid an Air France aircraft, which, he said, had been given mistaken instructions by an air traffic controller.
"At no time was there a danger to the passengers, the crew or the plane," Rahav said in a statement.
February 25th, 2010, 06:20 PM
Families of Russian air crash victims lose appeals
25 February 2010
BERN, Switzerland (AP) - A Swiss court has rejected most appeals to increase compensation payments for relatives of Russian victims of a 2002 airline crash.
News agency DAPD reports that the Federal Administrative Court dismissed appeals by 121 Russians who lost family members when a Bashkirian Airlines plane collided with a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany, killing 71 people.
DAPD reported Thursday that four appeals for higher compensation were granted.
The rulings can be appealed to Switzerland's highest court.
Four employees of Swiss air traffic control company Skyguide were found guilty of negligent homicide in the crash in 2007.
The only air traffic controller on duty at the time of the crash was stabbed to death in 2004 by a Russian who had lost his wife and children.
July 13th, 2010, 04:12 PM
Recent near-collisions between airliners, other aircraft raise alarms, bring FAA safety push
8 July 2010
WASHINGTON (AP) - Alarmed by a spate of near-collisions involving airliners, the government is trying to find out why air traffic controllers and pilots are making so many dangerous errors.
In recent months, there have been at least a half-dozen incidents in which airliners came close to colliding with other planes or helicopters -- including in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Burbank, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska. In some cases, pilots made last-second changes in direction after cockpit alarms went off warning of an impending crash.
"This spring we had several close calls that got everybody's attention, and I think that's the thing that really keyed us into taking at look at some of the risks, try to identify what we're missing," Robert Tarter, vice president of Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Safety-Air Traffic Organization, told employees in a conference call kicking off the new safety effort.
Just last week, a United Airlines flight waiting to land at Reagan National Airport near Washington came within less than a mile of a Gulfstream business jet that was climbing after taking off from another nearby airport. The United pilot can be heard on an air traffic control recording saying to his controller, "That was close," according to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a passenger on the United flight who has listened to the recording.
The FAA has also seen a sharp spike in incidents in which planes violated minimum separation distances, a cornerstone of air traffic safety. Generally, planes are required to keep a distance laterally of about 6 miles at high altitudes and nearly 3.5 miles when approaching airports. Planes can be closer during landings.
The rate for the most egregious violations of FAA separation standards rose to 3.28 per million flight operations in the nine months ending June 30, up from 2.44 in the full year ending Sept. 30, 2009. Flight operations include takeoffs, landings and when planes pass from the control of one radar center to another. It's the job of air traffic controllers to keep planes separated.
FAA has also been receiving about 250 to 300 reports a week under new a program that encourages controllers to disclose their mistakes. In exchange, the agency promises not to use the information to punish employees. Instead, the reports are used to spot trends. The program is modeled on a similar program for pilots.
In response to these warning signs, FAA is convening a summit of employees and management, as well as other safety experts, in Washington on Aug. 17. The event will mark the third time in less than four years the agency has hosted a special meeting to address urgent safety problems. In 2007, FAA held a summit in response to concern about planes coming too close together on runways. Last year, the agency called together airlines and pilots unions in response to revelations about the training, pay, experience and work schedules of pilots at regional airlines following a crash near Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people.
Officials are asking every air traffic controller, as well as other employees involved in air traffic operations, to tell them before the meeting what are the biggest safety problems they see. FAA officials are also fanning out to major airlines for meetings with their chief pilots. They want to stress the importance of pilots using the correct terminology when talking to air traffic controllers to avoid confusion, and that they shouldn't skip routine but important radio contacts with controllers.
By this fall, FAA officials hope to restart a program that gives controllers a chance to ride in cockpit jumpseats so that they can experience air traffic operations from a pilot's perspective. The program was discontinued after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when the government cracked down on access to airline cockpits.
Although FAA has a history of rocky relationships with its unions, the new safety push is backed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
"We see the errors also," Dale Wright, NATCA's safety director, said in the conference call last Thursday.
NATCA spokesman Doug Church said the union believes "we can help the FAA identify and address safety concerns in the system. ... We appreciate the level of collaboration that's now happening with the FAA on this."
The recent incidents have also spotlighted long-standing concerns about the experience level of the controller work force. Many of today's controllers were hired in 1981 after President Ronald Reagan fired striking controllers, and they are now retiring. FAA has hired 7,000 controllers in the past five years, but union officials say the rate of washouts has been high. They have complained that training waves of inexperienced controllers while trying to handle traffic at the nation's busiest radar facilities endangers safety.
Major airline crashes have dropped dramatically over the past decade due in large part to advances in safety equipment in cockpits, such as the collision warning systems. However, one consequence has been that it's easy for controllers and pilots to lose their edge, said former Transportation Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo.
"People come to rely on the equipment and the collision warning systems, and that's bad," Schiavo said.
September 9th, 2010, 05:53 PM
Voice error blamed for 777 near-miss over London
LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - A small business jet narrowly missed colliding with a Boeing 777 carrying 232 people over the British capital this summer because of a verbal communication error, air accident investigators said on Thursday.
The jet came perilously close to flying into the path of a Turkish Airlines passenger plane after taking off from London City Airport, as the 777 began its descent into the city's larger Heathrow airport.
Describing the near-miss in late July as a "serious incident", the Air Accidents Investigation Board (AAIB) said the planes came within half a mile of each other.
The business jet, carrying two crew and one passenger, was flying only 100 feet (30 metres) to 200 feet below the descending airliner, the AAIB said.
Investigators said a communication error between the pilot of the smaller jet and air traffic controllers at London City Airport had caused it to stray into the 777's flight path. Controllers had given the business jet clearance to climb to 3,000 feet, but when the flight crew relayed back the instruction, as required, they mistakenly said 4,000 feet instead.
The voice error was not picked up by the tower and the Turkish flight had descended to the same altitude.
The AAIB said if the incident had happened during bad weather the only barrier to a potential mid-air collision would have been to use a collision-avoidance system on the airliner as the respective pilots would not have seen each other.
Investigators said the Turkish Airlines flight crew had not noticed the on-board collision-avoidance warnings, while the smaller jet was not fitted with the specialised equipment.
November 25th, 2010, 06:12 AM
Lapse left airliners headed for collision near Mildura
25 November 2010
TWO passenger planes with 443 people on board were involved in a near miss over Mildura's outskirts last year after an air traffic controller failed to notice they were on a collision course, it emerged yesterday.
One of the planes was a Qantas 737 with 143 passengers and seven crew aboard, flying from Sydney to Adelaide, the other an Emirates Boeing 777 carrying 276 passengers and 17 crew, flying from Melbourne to Singapore on September 3 last year.
An air traffic controller cleared both planes to cruise at 30,000 feet, but their flight paths meant they would cross 60 kilometres south-east of Mildura.
The collision course went undetected for more than 17 minutes, according to an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation. A "conflict alert" flashed up on the air traffic controller's radar screen, the planes less than 19 kilometres apart. A minute after the alert, the gap had halved to 9.1 kilometres — breaching the allowable minimum space between the aircraft — and he radioed the Qantas pilots to "turn right", which they did.
Seconds later, he told the Qantas pilots to raise their craft 1000 feet, and the gap shrank to 6.7 kilometres before they flew higher, the drama averted. A minute later, the air traffic controller was stood down.
A bureau spokesman said the time to projected impact was "conjecture", but an aerospace engineer told The Age that at 10 kilometres a minute, the planes were about 40 seconds from hitting had evasive action not been taken.
Airservices Australia undertook to revise parts of its air traffic controller training program.
January 4th, 2011, 05:39 AM
FAA Seeks Fixes To Midair-Collision Warning Devices On 9,000 Aircraft
28 December 2010
(c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Federal aviation regulators are proposing fixes to midair-collision warning devices installed on nearly 9,000 U.S airliners and business aircraft, after uncovering a safety problem during a test flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration's proposed directive, made public on Monday, seeks to mandate software upgrades to widely used devices manufactured by a unit of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL)
During a flight test over a busy airport's airspace, according to the FAA, airborne collision warning systems manufactured by the unit, Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems LLC, failed to properly keep track of all nearby planes. The agency said one aircraft disappeared for at least 40 seconds from cockpit displays, which "could lead to possible loss of separation of air traffic and possible midair collisions."
Despite the proposal's broad sweep, regulators apparently concluded the problem doesn't pose an imminent safety threat because they want to give airlines and operators of business aircraft up to four years to complete the upgrades. Officials of New York-based L-3 Communications, which previously issued service bulletins dealing with the issue, couldn't immediately be reached for comment early Tuesday.
An FAA spokeswoman said the company's so-called TCAS devices are installed on more than 7,000 U.S. airliners and more than 1,800 business aircraft registered in this country. Less than 100 U.S. military aircraft also use the affected TCAS devices, which provide pilots with computer-generated alerts and emergency instructions to avoid nearby aircraft. TCAS stands for Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems.
Other U.S. and European companies manufacture similar systems, but those aren't affected by the FAA's proposed rule.
The agency's move comes amid heightened scrutiny of airborne near-misses around the U.S. Prompted by a spate of dangerous midair incidents in the past year, The FAA months ago began a nationwide review of air-traffic control procedures and safeguards. More recently, there has been a focus on controller errors leading to a surge in midair incidents in the skies over Washington, D.C. And earlier this year, the FAA, the air-traffic controllers union and United Airlines pilots agreed to set up the first U.S. program to jointly collect and analyze voluntary reports about midair near-collisions.
By shielding participants from punishment, controllers feel that the current drive to expand voluntary reporting programs and data-sharing initiatives has contributed to the recent spike in reports of hazardous midair incidents.
One goal of voluntary data-sharing is to identify crowded sections of U.S. airspace where operational mistakes--ranging from altitude deviations by pilots to improper instructions issued by controllers--occur most frequently. Participants can then devise various prevention strategies to reduce risks.
The FAA's proposed rule also coincides with ongoing agency and industry analyses of a different set of reports--previously supplied by European carriers--highlighting spikes in midair collision-avoidance warnings in recent years around major U.S. airports. The sites include Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Chicago.
After analyzing data from more than four million flights, industry and FAA experts found that such cockpit warnings occurred many times more frequently over Southern California than any other busy air-traffic sector in the U.S. Some experts suspect large numbers of general-aviation aircraft around Los Angeles and San Diego, combined with FAA redesign of some approach and departure routes, may be to blame.
Other experts have focused on slight differences between collision-avoidance technology used by U.S. carriers, versus the onboard devices generally used in Europe. But the FAA has said it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates airliner incidents and accidents, earlier this year started collecting its own reports of cockpit collision-avoidance warnings. The board wants to make sure that such incidents are promptly and fully reported, and that relevant radar data and detailed flight information gets passed on to investigators.
February 13th, 2011, 04:06 PM
Passenger plane, military jets in near miss-officials
WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - An American Airlines jetliner and two Air Force cargo jets flying together averted a possible collision last month over the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. safety investigators said on Friday.
Flight 951, a Boeing Co 777-200, headed southeast to Sao Paulo from New York's John F Kennedy airport, was 80 miles (129 km) into its Jan. 20 trip when warning systems alerted air controllers that it was heading in the direction of the C-17s flying northwest bound for New Jersey, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.
Controllers handling the military flights received the same alerts and the converging planes were ordered to change course, coming about a mile from each other. Safety investigators are reviewing controller handling of the flights.
The Federal Aviation Administration is also reviewing the matter and said controllers at its busy New York center are taking another look at procedures, including guidelines for handling military planes flying in formation.