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Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 9:14 am

05 September 2000 07:00AM

Two jets within seconds of mid-air collision

LONDON - Two passenger jets came within 10 seconds of a mid-air collision above Central London before intervention by an air-traffic controller averted the disaster.

The jets from United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, carrying 707 people in all, came as close as 200 metres to each other before a computer-activated collision-course alarm warned them of the danger.

The two jets were on their final approach to Heathrow in the early hours of Sunday on Aug 20, reported The Times of London.

Once the alarm sounded, air-traffic controllers at West Drayton immediately told the pilot of United Flight 998: ''Take urgent avoiding action now! Turn on to a heading of 270 degrees to avoid airliner.''

The captain of the United Boeing 777, carrying 278 passengers and 14 crew from Boston, calmly replied: ''Understood. Immediate action taken. I have got the other aircraft beneath me in my sight.''

After the near miss, the air-traffic controller told the United pilot that the Virgin aircraft was ''going 600 feet underneath you''.

Virgin Flight 22, from Washington, was carrying 400 passengers and 15 crew. Both jets, flying at about 480 km per hour, were descending towards Heathrow at different angles but could have collided within moments.

A pilot who listened in on the exchange between the controller and the United pilot said: ''It was a computer conflict alarm that saved the day and prevented what could have been the worst air disaster in Britain.

''Can you imagine the devastation if these jets had come down in the Westminster region - on the Houses of Parliament?''

A Civil Aviation authority said the incident had been investigated and the conclusion was that safety had not been compromised.

A far more nonchalant Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: ''These incidents are not uncommon in the stacking system for aircraft waiting for permission to land at Heathrow.''

This latest incident comes shortly after Britain's air traffic watchdog issued a safety alert after an increasing number of cases of radio hackers posing as controllers and issuing false instructions to airline pilots descending to land at British airports.

In all 20 cases reported so far this year, the pilots eventually realised they were talking to fake air-traffic controllers.

That shows you how British ATC handle the problem, eh?

Source:Project Eyeball S'pore


Gundu
 
Big777jet
Posts: 2682
Joined: Mon May 01, 2000 10:52 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 9:38 am

I checked OAG United flight #998 this is not a 777. It's a 767 from BOS to LHR.

Pretty scary! Thanks God they're safe. Look at this number of 707 passengers. That's a Boeing 707! Chilly!!!

Big777jet
 
Udo
Posts: 4288
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 5:16 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 10:35 am

Some people in London should realize soon that the traffic control system has to be updated. I just read that they use an out of time system to control the traffic...
Does there have to be a collision with 800 deaths first until they react?

Me & You & a Plane Named Blue...
 
na
Posts: 9129
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 3:52 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 3:41 pm

Heathrow/London seems to be No.1 in near collisions in the world. Frightening.
LHR should be the perfect airport for the A3XX: Bigger aircraft = less flights = less chance of an accident.

Last year I was sitting in an LH A321 when we came near to an LH A310 during approach to FRA in the middle of thick clouds. The A310 was so near you could read the registration! I´ve never heard about this "near-miss" in the news. It was no less tight than this Virgin/United near London!
 
Guest

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 5:33 pm

Udo is right,
The NERC project (new en route center for the London Area) has been a total failure, which hopefully could go operational end of 2001, 6 years behind schedule...Beautiful state-of-the-art building still waiting for its controllers...

A big stain on Lockheed-Martin's record (they are doing the system with several other partners...).

E.
 
ake0404ar
Posts: 2379
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 6:50 pm

maybe stupid questions, but as far as I know all a/c flying to and from the states have to be equipped with a TCAS.
Shouldn't have that alerted one of the pilots either VS or UA or both.

See following photo:


Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Vasco Garcia



The TCAS alerted the pilots with : traffic traffic

Regards
Vasco
 
widebody
Posts: 1107
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2000 5:08 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 6:53 pm

....the above article indicates the TCAS in both aircraft prevented the collosion...

"The jets from United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, carrying 707 people in all, came as close as 200 metres to each other before a computer-activated collision-course alarm warned them of the danger...."
 
LoneStarMike
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2000 1:02 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 7:29 pm

Thanks for posting that. The scariest thing about the article to me was the end.

"This latest incident comes shortly after Britain's air traffic watchdog issued a safety alert after an increasing number of cases of radio hackers posing as controllers and issuing false instructions to airline pilots descending to land at British airports.

In all 20 cases reported so far this year, the pilots eventually realised they were talking to fake air-traffic controllers."

Now that is frightening. I wonder if this will become some sort of new terrorism? Instead of blowing up a plane, just give it false instructions and either crash it into the ground or into another plane (2 for 1). Ugh. I don't even want to think about this.

LoneStarMike

 
ake0404ar
Posts: 2379
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 7:39 pm

upps, was not awake at that the time of my previous post, sorry.
 
Guest

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 10:41 pm

Oh my God ! What's this world coming to !
 
airsicknessbag
Posts: 4626
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2000 2:45 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Tue Sep 05, 2000 10:58 pm

That´s why most countries don´t let planes fly over their respective houses of parliament...
Daniel
 
Guest

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over Lond

Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:02 pm

How many times has this sort of thing got to happen before the government realise that our ATC systems are out of date? Living under many of the main UK airways this post leaves me concerned and anxious. Are all aircraft fitted with TCAS?? If not why not???!

People who make hoax ATC calls should be treated seriously, as one day there stupid actions may kill many people, both in the air and on the ground.

Regards
Britannia 291A
Manchester, UK
 
ACA330
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 1999 4:13 am

Re: Hackers

Wed Sep 06, 2000 12:37 am


I can't believe it !

How could anyone do that !!

How is this technically possible to get that frequency???

I had never heard this before... what can be done to prevent this dangerous kind a contamination??

Sorry, this post didn't offer much information, just an expression of my dissappointment with those hackers !!!
 
b744
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 5:48 pm

Re: Hackers

Wed Sep 06, 2000 12:53 am

It's very simple to broadcast on the VHF AM frequencies. All you need is an off-the-shelf radio used by light aircraft, gliders and even small landing strips / drop zones and if you know the local tower / approach frequencies, you can transmit. The type of modulation used is very old and very insecure. The main problem that aviation authorities face in trying to mandate a changeover to a newer more secure technology is the co-ordination required to change everyone over. i.e., what happens if an airport has been upgarded but a particular aircraft (that maybe doesn't fly there often) hasn't (and vice-versa).

However, I think the problem is serious enough to be tackled.

B744
 
VirginLover
Posts: 918
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2000 8:46 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic And United Near Miss Over London

Wed Sep 06, 2000 12:58 am

WOW! That was a close miss! If that Virgin Plane crashed(and United's plane too) ... I don't know what I would do (as most of you know I am a very loyal follower!)