Saturday, July 13, 2024

Two planes narrowly avoid each other and come close to disaster in mid-flight


A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 collided with an Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350-900 in the Gulf of Aden. (photo illustration)

Robert Buchel / Robert –

Somaliland Civil Aviation blames its Somali counterpart for causing the incident, which could have killed hundreds of people.

Hundreds of passengers have come close to death without realizing it. On Saturday 24 February, an Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350-900 flying between Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates) narrowly avoided a mid-air collision with a Qatar Airways Boeing 787 en route from Doha to Entebbe, Uganda. .

At 12:32 local time, the Qatar Airways flight, “It was flying at a fixed altitude (38,000 feet) and was wrongly informed by controllers in Mogadishu (in Somalia, editor's note) to climb to 40,000 feet”, the Civil Aviation Authority of Somalia's border state of Somaliland said in a press release. At the time, the Ethiopian A350 was flying in the opposite direction at an altitude of 39,000 feet.

This error led to both planes ending up at almost the same altitude, in the Gulf of Aden, in extremely dangerous conditions in the air. Fortunately, both aircraft's TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) collision warning systems were functioning properly, indicating the dangerous proximity between the two aircraft.

Using TCAS, pilots were able to coordinate vertical evasive maneuvers, one climbing and the other descending, thereby avoiding an imminent collision. Without these warnings, a disaster would have occurred. An investigation has been launched by the Somali Civil Aviation to understand the exact circumstances surrounding the incident.

Tight ties

The incident highlights stormy relations between Somalia and its neighbor, Somaliland, a separatist part of the Horn of Africa state and a self-declared republic since 1991, not recognized internationally. In the skies, the two states fight over control of the region's airspace. In 2019, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) handed over management of Somalia's airspace to the Somali authorities. In its press release issued on Saturday, Somaliland Civil Aviation accused its Somali counterpart of wrongdoing. On the other hand, Somalia has already blamed Somaliland in the past “Wrong Planes”.

In Somalia, we try to reassure people. “The Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) assures all Somali citizens and airlines using Somali aircraft that it fully controls the safety of Somali flights. There is no insecurity and no security risk in Somali skies”The authority wrote on Facebook Saturday after the near-crash.

The conflict was averted a few months after a similar incident in the United States. Last November, an American Airlines flight and a Tradewind Aviation flight crashed simultaneously while landing at New York's JFK Airport. This type of incident is not uncommon across the Atlantic. Last summer, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a report New York Times, In July 2023 alone, 46 plane crashes were avoided in the United States, he said. Evidence that Uncle Sam is taking the matter seriously in the country was acknowledged by US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in USA Today in March 2023. “concern”And his administration promised to try “To take a closer look and do a deeper analysis to see what's going on”.

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