Passenger planes were only minutes from collision

Jun 24 2011

A report into a near collision involving two planes flying over the Northern Territory has found an air traffic controller had no idea the aircraft were on course to crash into each other.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its final report into a midair incident in which two passenger planes were flying towards each other north-west of Tennant Creek in December 2009.

One was a Virgin flight from Melbourne to Darwin and the other a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne.

The bureau report describes it as a serious incident.

It says the two planes were only minutes away from crashing.

It found it was the flight crews on board the aircraft who realised they were on collision courses, not the air traffic controller.

The report says the controller failed to effectively control the situation and had not received enough training in what to do in such a situation.

No supervisor was with the controller at the time to help.

It said the flight crews took their own decisions to change course.

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