Near collision between military and civilian planes in India

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Jet Airways Boeing 737 with 89 people on board was involved in a near-collision with a formation of Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30s in the skies over Rajkot airport at around 8:30 AM (IST) today. The Jet Airways plane developed a technical snag as a result of the sudden climb it had to execute to avoid the fighter jets, which were participating in the Gagan Shakti air-exercise. The 737 was subsequently grounded at Rajkot.

Preliminary reports suggest that the narrowly-averted mishap may have been caused due to a lack of co-ordination between the Jet Airways crew and Rajkot air-traffic controllers. A Jet spokemsan said that flight 9W-345 from Mumbai CST to Rajkot was on a normal approach to the airport, when the ACAS (Aircraft Collision Avoidance System or Airborne Collision Avoidance System) instructed the pilots to climb from 22,500 ft to 23,000 ft. The 737 reportedly came within 500 feet of the IAF jets.

The Air Force statement issued in New Delhi, however, said "Prima facie reports available suggest that the fighter aircraft did not pose any threat to the civil airliner as they were under control of ground-based radar and in visual contact." An inquiry with the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation is underway to investigate the incident.