Monday, February 17, 2014

Passenger jet in near miss with paraglider on flight from Newquay

An airliner carrying passengers from Newquay to Southend missed a motorized paraglider by just 50 metres as it came in to land.

A ‘near miss’ report to the UK Airprox Board revealed the pilot of the easyJet Airbus A319 saw the red canopy of the machine flash past the cockpit window at 2,000ft.

He told air traffic control: “We’ve just had some kind of para-glider or something like that passing very, very close to our left hand side.”

Radar cannot pick up very small or slow-moving aircraft, so air traffic controllers were unable to warn the pilot on July 18 last year.

It is understood that, under current rules, wannabe pilots can buy paramotor kits online for £1,500 and take to the air untrained and unlicensed.

The board report found there was a ‘Category A’ risk of collision near Southend Airport, in Essex, and recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reviews the licensing of paramotor glider pilots.

It states: “The Board observed that the paramotor pilot had probably been unwise to position himself at 2000ft so close to the approach track for Southend’s active [runway]… the positioning of the paramotor possibly indicated a low-level of aviation awareness by its pilot.”

Officials said they had been unable to trace the pilot after what must have been a “frightening experience”.

Board members stated that although paramotor pilots do not need a license to fly, they must still comply with guidelines called Rules of the Air.

The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHGPA) oversees pilot and instructor training but there is no requirement for pilots to join the organization.

The report adds: “The pilot involved in this Airprox could well have been entirely independent, and could possibly have received very little training in Air Law and airmanship matters.”

The BHGPA has backed calls for paramotor pilots to be licensed.

EasyJet said: “The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority. Our crew followed procedures correctly and acted accordingly.”


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