A Cessna Citation Sovereign pilot, climbing away from the runway looks up from the task of engaging the autopilot to find a Cessna 172 filling his windscreen. His exclamation - with the transmit button pressed - says it all: "Whoaa!"
Actually he said that more than that: the full story is here.
The event happened at Biggin Hill aerodrome, not far south-east of London, a busy general and business aviation airport. Both aircraft were cleared be the tower for what they were doing, the Citation taking off on runway 21 for a departure, the 172 approaching from the dead side to join the right hand visual circuit downwind. The visibility was good, visual flight rules applied, the circuit contained active traffic, so although the tower was providing clearances, separation was primarily the responsibility of the pilots.
The report on this event by the UK Airprox Board, in its summary, warns of the inherent risks of mixing high-performance and low-performance aircraft, and calls for a greater awareness of the risk.
Well, if events like this can happen, this is a timely reminder. But since when did pilots start thinking they could operate in a visual circuit and not take lookout seriously, no matter what kind of aircraft they are flying?
The Airprox Board said the cause was the failure of the tower to check with the Citation crew before issuing take-off clearance that they had the 172 in sight. Sure, that would be the ideal, but the 172 and a Robin in the circuit were talking to the tower, so it would be normal for the Citation crew to identify them before embarking on its high-performance take-off run.
It sounds like a reminder is needed. Maybe this Citation pilot had become too accustomed to big airports that don't have an active circuit and where the thinking is IFR even when they are technically operating to VFR.