TWO helicopters came within 100 feet of a mid air collision above the Yell village of Burravoe six months ago, it was revealed on Friday.
The UK Airprox Board has published its findings of the incident in which a Sikorsky S92 flying in from the North Sea oil fields had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a Eurocopter EC135 on 16 September last year.
The board gave the incident the highest Category A risk rating, finding that the cause lay in the fact the two pilots had not seen each other in time despite being warned of each other’s presence by air traffic control at Scatsta airport.
The S92 was the last of four Sikorskys flying in to land at Scatsta around midday in intermittent cloud, and had started its descent from 3,000 feet and had reached 1,800 feet when the incident occurred.
The EC135 was flying north from Tingwall airport heading for the northern tip of Unst with four people on board before returning at 1,500 feet beneath the clouds.
The S92 was not aware of the other chopper until he thought it was just 200 feet away, when he suddenly spotted it and made a sharp left-hand avoiding turn. The records later showed that in fact it was just 100 feet away.
The pilot of the other aircraft never even saw the S92 above him, the report said.
The Airprox Board came to the conclusion that the two aircraft were already passing each other when the avoidance action was taken, and therefore it probably did not increase the separation between them.
Their report said: “It was decided that the cause was a late sighting by the S92 pilot and a non-sighting by the EC135 pilot.
“The Board agreed unanimously that, because separation had been reduced to the minimum and chance had played a major part in events, nothing could have been done to improve matters and the risk was assessed as Category A.”
The full report can be read here.
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