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  • OPINION: Collision highlights need to heed obvious precedents

OPINION: Collision highlights need to heed obvious precedents

Almost nine years to the day after Gol 1907 spiralled into the Brazilian jungle, crippled by a mid-air collision, only fortuitous geometry spared a second ­737-800 a similar fate over Senegal.

The parallels between the two accidents are uncanny. Both involved a 737 and an executive jet flying opposite-direction headings on a single airway at the same altitude; flights which were supposed to be separated by 1,000ft.

Neither encounter generated a collision-avoidance warning and, upon impact, a vertical winglet on the surviving aircraft inflicted fatal damage on the other.

Where the circumstances of the two events diverge considerably is in the degree of foreshadowing.

If observations of discrepancies by air navigation services and the crews of the BAe 125 involved in the Senegal accident were not enough to spur preventive action, a dress rehearsal of the collision six weeks beforehand should have been.

Strategies such as lateral offset were highlighted in the wake of Gol 1907 and, in July this year, the international pilots federation IFALPA made a similar recommendation as part of a broader safety advisory.

But while these might offer a defence against the perilously close turning into the virtually unavoidable, they are no substitute for a robust culture of safety management, one which ensures early and effective intervention when the risks are blindingly obvious.

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