Learjet pilot praised after low-level evasion averts A109 mid-air

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Irish investigators have praised the airmanship of a Bombardier Learjet 31A pilot whose swift reactions, immediately after lift-off, averted a mid-air collision with a helicopter at Dublin.

The Learjet's commander took control from the handling pilot, levelled the aircraft at just 200ft and banked left to avoid an Agusta Westland A109 which was crossing in front at the same height.

Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit says the "excellent" airmanship of the commander "narrowly avoided both a mid-air collision and ground contact" during the 17 December 2007 incident.

After receiving a controller's instruction to 'pass behind' the traffic 'rolling off' runway 10, the helicopter pilot misidentified the aircraft to which the controller was referring, believing he meant a Boeing 737 taxiing for departure.

He failed to see the Learjet on runway 10, partly because of the low light levels and the aircraft's dark-grey colouring.

"There was little vertical or horizontal separation between the two aircraft at the time of the occurrence," it says, adding that the Learjet, travelling at 173kt, passed just below and behind the A109.

"It was not possible to measure horizontal separation distance from the radar records as both the radar return images from the aircraft were superimposed."