Fighter pilot was unaware of incident, but SN Brussels jet climbed after responding to collision warning system

An incident involving a Royal Air Force fast jet and a regional aircraft on approach to Newcastle airport in the UK was "one of the most serious" airproxes UK investigators have seen, says a report.

The RAF Sepecat Jaguar, climbing at high speed, nearly hit an SN Brussels BAE Systems Avro RJ85 on a scheduled service to Newcastle, the two aircraft missing each other by 30m (100ft) vertically, according to the UK Airprox Board report.

The event occurred over the North Sea about 40km (22nm) south east of Newcastle on 2 July 2002, the day after a DHL Boeing 757 freighter and a Bashkirian Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 collided over southern Germany killing all 59 occupants of both aircraft.

The RJ85 and Jaguar were in Class G uncontrolled airspace, the SN Brussels aircraft in contact with Newcastle flying at a cleared 7,000ft level in cloud. The Jaguar pilot, climbing rapidly away from low level to return to base on minimum fuel, was in the process of calling London military control for identification. He had not, however, established contact before the aircraft entered cloud at about 6,000ft.

The aircraft passed each other on almost reciprocal courses, the RJ85 level heading north west and the Jaguar climbing south east. The RJ85 pilots saw and heard the Jaguar pass beneath them just after they had responded to an airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS) resolution advisory and had time to climb about 200ft, but the Jaguar pilot - his aircraft equipped with a mode 2 transponder, but no ACAS - was unaware of the incident.

The report's judgement is that neither ATC nor the SN Brussels crew could be criticised, but the Jaguar pilot had "taken an unnecessary risk in climbing from low level into [cloud]" before being radar identified and cleared.

Source: Flight International