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German inquiry details A321's close brush with glider

German investigators have released preliminary details of a serious airprox incident in which an Airbus A321 passed close to a glider while descending towards Hamburg.

The German-operated aircraft – operating a service from Frankfurt on 23 July, with 170 passengers and five crew members – had been preparing for an ILS approach to runway 23.

Investigation authority BFU says the jet, under Bremen radar control, was descending at 910ft/min through 3,600ft towards its cleared altitude of 3,000ft, and banked some 25° to the left as it turned towards the west.

BFU says the aircraft suddenly came into conflict with a Rolladen-Schneider LS4 glider.

The A321 crew estimated the glider was 100ft above and 50-100m to the left of the jet, although flight data sourced by BFU puts the separation at 50m horizontally and 200ft vertically.

BFU says the glider pilot had been flying north-west at about 3,600ft when the Airbus "unexpectedly" appeared just below and to the right.

"She had not seen the Airbus beforehand and therefore could not avoid it," adds the inquiry.

BFU says the glider was one of a pair launched from Lubeck-Blankensee, the other being situated around 1.5nm further north-west at the time.

The A321 continued its approach to Hamburg and the glider subsequently returned to its launch point.

BFU says the encounter took place in Class E airspace, which is shared by traffic operating under visual and instrument flight rules.

There was good visibility with no significant cloud below 5,000ft, and the sun was low in the west at the time of the incident. BFU says there is a transponder requirement only for powered aircraft above 5,000ft.

While BFU has not identified the German carrier involved, under the country's privacy regulations, Cirium routes data indicates that only Lufthansa serves the Frankfurt-Hamburg sector.

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