Il-76/747 collision: who was to blame?

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Sir - In response to the letter from Capt F W Pike (Flight International, 13-19 August, P48), and other previous statements about the Chimkentavia Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 freighter mid-air collision with a Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-100B near Delhi, India, in November 1996, I must comment on the quick reaction by many at the time who seemed convinced that the collision was a result of air-traffic-control procedures or equipment.

If the aircraft were cleared to maintain the standard vertical separation - a fact which I believe was acknowledged by the respective crews, together with the provision of additional traffic information - then, surely, the question should be: "Which aircraft bust altitude, and why?"

To believe that flying 1nm (1.85km) off course will solve problems may be folly, with the potential to compound errors rather than eliminate them.

Irrespective of the track flown, there will still be a requirement to overtake slower traffic on the same track: and how do you solve the problem of crossing traffic? Perhaps if everyone is flying their own offsets, current separation standards can be thrown out.

Arthur Bradshaw

Divisional manager

Air Traffic Services

ATNS

Johannesburg, South Africa