Could this be the incident?
From the Electronic Telegraph, London...
ONE of the most dangerous near-collisions in British aviation history
was caused by a series of misjudgments by an air traffic controller,
the official report on the incident concluded yesterday.
A British Airways jumbo jet carrying 381 people almost landed on top
of a British Midland aircraft that had wrongly been given permission
to take off from the same runway at Heathrow. After the British
Midland Airbus aborted its take-off roll, the BA airliner passed
directly over it at 160mph with a vertical clearance of less than
The report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch said the
controller in charge, who was also supervising a trainee, had pushed
ahead with an "unachievable" plan to fit in three take-offs and a
landing on the airport's southern runway within two minutes.
Despite evidence that both the trainee and the British Midland crew,
who were third in line for departure, queried the feasibility of the
scheme, the 35-year-old controller pressed on.
With the BA Boeing 747-400, inbound from Japan, only 30 seconds from
touchdown, the controller radioed to the crew: "Keep it coming.
There's one to roll." The BA pilots assumed the controller meant a
Lufthansa jet, which they could see accelerating down the runway. In
fact, the controller was referring to the 89-passenger British Midland
A321, which he intended to get airborne before the jumbo landed.
Ten seconds later, he told the Brussels-bound BM pilots that they were
cleared for immediate take-off. After a further eight seconds, the
38ft tall aircraft began to move forward, but was forced to brake
when - with the 747 only 120ft above the ground - the controller
cancelled the departure authority. As he did so, the British Airways
crew abandoned the landing, pulled up the nose sharply and initiated a
The inquiry report said: "The advisability of proceeding with such an
apparently flawed plan is questionable. In a training situation, it is
even more questionable and, at best, indicates an extreme lack of
The controller, who had worked at Heathrow for seven years before last
year's incident, had been the subject of an internal inquiry in 1999
after he cleared a Boeing 757 to cross a runway in front of a 747 that
had been authorised for take-off.
Managers said he had shown an "apparent lack of concentration" and
warned him about future performance. Nonetheless, he was allowed to
begin duties as an on-the-job training instructor only a month later.
National Air Traffic Services described the incident as "very serious
and regrettable". Managers said a more formal system for selecting
training mentors at Heathrow and monitoring individual performance had
been introduced. The controller concerned has been transferred to a
"less busy" airport. The female trainee, who was exonerated by the
inquiry, is still at Heathrow.
Heathrow is the world's busiest international airport and handles more
than 1,200 flights a day.