If you are planning on flying out of Newcastle airport, you may want to look away now! With three close shaves in less than one month, an investigation is now under way to see exactly how close the airport was to witnessing a fatal incident.
All three near misses, or “airprox incidents” as they are known in the industry, took place between late March and early April. The first was just before midday on March 19th, when an Embraer 145 en-route to Copenhagen and a Boeing 777 on its way to Glasgow almost collided, thirty miles from the airport.
In the middle of the afternoon on March 21st, two Newcastle-bound Boeing 737s had a near miss just five miles away from the airport.
Just over two weeks later on April 8th, a military aircraft almost hit a Saab 200 on its way to Aberdeen airport twenty miles from Newcastle. This is not the first time military aircraft have been a cause for concern in airprox incidents near the airport. In December 2007, an investigation was launched after an Emirates plane flying to Dubai had a close shave with a military aircraft. This was the seventeenth incident involving military aircraft in the area.
The UK Airprox Board investigates fewer than a hundred such incidents a year and only a small percentage are officially classified as being a true collision risk. Many are technical matters which are ultimately deemed not to have put the public in danger. There is, however, a concern amongst the travelling public that the growth of regional airport traffic is making the skies a busier place which will lead inevitably to a greater risk of mid-air collisions.